One-Session Treatment of Specific Phobias in Youth: A Randomized Clinical Trial in the United States and Sweden

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Abstract

One hundred and ninety-six youth, ages 7-16, who fulfilled Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) criteria for various specific phobias were randomized to a one-session exposure treatment, education support treatment, or a wait list control group. After the waiting period, the wait list participants were offered treatment and, if interested, rerandomized to 1 of the 2 active treatments. The phobias were assessed with semistructured diagnostic interviews, clinician severity ratings, and behavioral avoidance tests, whereas fears, general anxiety, depression, and behavior problems were assessed with self- and parent report measures. Assessments were completed pretreatment, posttreatment, and at 6 months following treatment. Results showed that both treatment conditions were superior to the wait list control condition and that 1-session exposure treatment was superior to education support treatment on clinician ratings of phobic severity, percentage of participants who were diagnosis free, child ratings of anxiety during the behavioral avoidance test, and treatment satisfaction as reported by the youth and their parents. There were no differences on self-report measures. Treatment effects were maintained at follow-up. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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