School-based interventions for anxious children

Gail A Bernstein, Ann E. Layne, Elizabeth A. Egan, Dana M. Tennison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the effectiveness of three school-based interventions for anxious children: group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for children, group CBT for children plus parent training group, and no-treatment control. Method: Students (7-11 years old) in three elementary schools (N = 453) were screened using the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children and teacher nomination. Subsequently, 101 identified children and their parents completed the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for DSM-IV, Child Version. Children with features or DSM-IV diagnoses of separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and/or social phobia (n = 61) were randomized by school to one of three conditions. Active treatments were nine weekly sessions of either group CBT or group CBT plus concurrent parent training. Results: Clinician-report, child-report, and parent-report measures of child anxiety demonstrated significant benefits of CBT treatments over the no-treatment control group. Effect size was 0.58 for change in composite clinician severity rating, the primary outcome measure, favoring collapsed CBT conditions compared with control. In addition, several instruments showed significantly greater improvement in child anxiety for group CBT plus parent training over group CBT alone. Conclusions: Both active CBT treatments were more effective than the no-treatment control condition in decreasing child anxiety symptoms and associated impairment. When parent training was combined with child group CBT, there were some additional benefits for the children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1118-1127
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health ( MH065369 ), the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center, and the Minnesota Medical Foundation (G.A.B.). The authors acknowledge the contributions of James Appleton, B.S., Andrew Davis, Sarah Evans, B.A., Jeffrey Harring, M.S., Kathryn Lail, B.A., Lara Nelson, M.D., and Tracy Poworoznyk, M.A. Consultation from Anne Marie Albano, Ph.D., and Paula Barrett, Ph.D., is greatly appreciated. The authors thank the participating schools and families.


  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • School-based interventions


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