EFFICACY OF COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL AND PHARMACOLOGICAL TREATMENTS FOR CHILDREN WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY


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Abstract

Childhood social anxiety is associated with significant social and academic impairment. The purpose of this study was to compare and contrast the efficacy of two major treatments for social anxiety disorders in children: cognitivebehavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug treatment. Treatment studies in the literature were evaluated using metaanalytic techniques to compare pre- and post-treatment measures of social anxiety symptoms, general anxiousness, social competency, and impairment. Results indicate that the core symptoms of social anxiety and impairment were reduced by both cognitive-behavioral treatment (ES=0.86 and 1.56) and SSRI treatment (ES=1.30 and 2.29), respectively. Similarly, peripheral symptoms of general anxiousness were reduced by both cognitive-behavioral treatment (ES=0.75) and SSRI treatment (ES=1.29). Finally, both cognitive-behavioral (ES=0.68) and SSRI treatment (ES=0.68) resulted in moderate improvements in social competence. Implications and the limitations of these meta-analytic findings are discussed with respect to the evidence-based intervention movement.

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