Guided parent-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy for children with anxiety disorders: Outcomes at 3- to 5-year follow-up.


Objectives: Brief guided parent-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) has been developed to meet the demand for non-intensive interventions for children with anxiety disorders, and initial trials have shown it to be effective for children with a range of anxiety disorders. This study examined outcomes 3-5 years post-treatment. Design: A long-term follow-up (LTFU) cohort study. Methods: Families who (1) completed at least 50% of allocated treatment sessions of guided parent-delivered CBT for childhood anxiety as part of a randomized control trial (RCT), (2) provided consent to be recontacted, (3) had not received further mental health interventions, and (4) were contactable were invited to take part. Fifty-seven families (29% of the original sample) completed structured diagnostic interviews on average 50 months after treatment (39-61 months). Results: At LTFU, 79% of the assessed children who had received the treatment no longer met criteria for their primary diagnosis, 63% did not meet criteria for any anxiety disorder, and 61% did not meet criteria for any DSM-IV disorder. Treatment gains were mostly maintained (60%), and some children went on to recover during the follow-up period without additional input from mental health services (19%). Few young people had relapsed since their last assessment (12%). Mean scores on standardized symptom questionnaires were within the normal range. Conclusions: Children who recovered from anxiety disorders following brief guided parent-delivered CBT typically maintained good outcomes and few relapsed. These findings suggest that this is a viable first-line, low-intensity treatment approach. This study only included a small subsample of those in the original RCT (29%), and more information is required about those who dropped out of treatment and those who required further intervention immediately after treatment.