A RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL IN COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTERS OF COMPUTER-ASSISTED COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY VERSUS TREATMENT AS USUAL FOR CHILDREN WITH ANXIETY


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Abstract

Objective:This study aims to examine the real-world effectiveness of a computer-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) protocol relative to treatment as usual (TAU) among anxious children presenting at community mental health centers.Methods:One hundred children (7–13 years) with clinically significant anxiety were randomized to receive either 12 weekly computer-assisted CBT sessions or TAU for an equivalent duration. Assessments were conducted by independent evaluators at screening/baseline, midtreatment, posttreatment, and 1-month followup (for computer-assisted CBT treatment responders).Results:There were significant between-group effects favoring the computer-assisted CBT condition on primary anxiety outcomes. Thirty of 49 (61.2%) children randomized to computer-assisted CBT responded to treatment, which was superior to TAU (6/51, 11.8%). Relative to TAU, computer-assisted CBT was associated with greater reductions in parent-rated child impairment and internalizing symptoms, but not child-rated impairment and anxiety and depressive symptoms. Treatment satisfaction and therapeutic alliance in those receiving computer-assisted CBT was high. Treatment gains in computer-assisted CBT responders were maintained at 1-month followup.Conclusions:Within the limitations of this study, computer-assisted CBT is an effective and feasible treatment for anxious children when used in community mental health centers by CBT-naïve clinicians.

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