Delivery of a therapist-facilitated telecare anxiety program to children in rural communities: A pilot study.


Objective: This pilot study explored the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a therapist-facilitated telecare cognitive behavioural anxiety program delivered through schools to children within rural communities. Method: Sixteen children aged 9-12 years (82.5% male), with a principal diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, and their mothers participated in the pilot study. The treatment program was an adaption of the Cool Kids Child and Adolescent Anxiety Management Program. Treatment was delivered by clinical psychologists and involved 10 weekly sessions with children via an interactive, real-time videoconferencing online platform at their school. Parents also received 4 phone calls during the treatment program. Outcome measures included clinician-rated diagnostic status and child- and parent-reported symptoms and interference. Results: According to combined parent and child reports, 62.5% of children no longer met diagnostic criteria for their primary anxiety disorder, and 31.25% did not meet diagnostic criteria for any anxiety disorder post-treatment. Results indicated that the severity of anxiety symptoms, functional impact of anxiety symptoms, externalising difficulties, and depressive symptoms in children decreased significantly post-treatment, as reported by both parents and children. Conclusions: A telecare model of therapy could be a feasible and effective way of delivering evidence-based intervention to children in rural communities.