Feasibility of guided CBT self-help for childhood anxiety disorders in primary care
Creswell, C. S., Hentges, F., Parkinson, M. B., Sheffield, P., Willetts, L. and Cooper, P. J. (2010) Feasibility of guided CBT self-help for childhood anxiety disorders in primary care. Mental Health in Family Medicine, 7 (1). pp. 49-57. ISSN 1756-834X
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Anxiety disorders in childhood are common, disabling and run a chronic course. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) effective but is expensive and trained therapists are scarce. Guided self-help treatments may be a means of widening access to treatment. This study aimed to examine the feasibility of guided CBT self-help for childhood anxiety disorders in Primary Care, specifically in terms of therapist adherence, patient and therapist satisfaction and clinical gain. Participants were children aged 5-12 years referred to two Primary Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (PCAMHSs) in Oxfordshire, UK, who met diagnostic criteria for a primary anxiety disorder. Of the 52 eligible children, 41 anxious children were assessed for anxiety severity and interference before and after receiving CBT self-help, delivered via the parent (total therapy time= 5 hours) by Primary Mental Health Workers (PMHWs). Therapy sessions were rated for treatment adherence and patients and PMHWs completed satisfaction questionnaires after treatment completion. Over 80% of therapy sessions were rated at a high level of treatment adherence. Parents and PMHWs reported high satisfaction with the treatment. 61% of the children assessed no longer met criteria for their primary anxiety disorder diagnosis following treatment, and 76% were rated as ‘much’/’very much’ improved on the Clinician’s Global Impression-Improvement scale. There were significant reductions on parent and child report measures of anxiety symptoms, interference, and depression. Preliminary exploration indicated that parental anxiety was associated with child treatment outcome. The findings suggest that guided CBT self-help represents a promising treatment for childhood anxiety in primary care.