Prevention of Anxiety Disorders: Results of a Universal Trial with Young Children

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Abstract

We examined a brief program aimed at preventing anxiety and other problems in early childhood. Participants (N = 734, age 3–6 years) were drawn from 25 preschools across Brisbane, Australia. Assessments occurred four times over 14 months, with a diagnostic interview at follow-up. Parent and teacher reports included information on child temperament, social behavior, inhibition, parent characteristics, and parent-child interactions. REACH for RESILIENCE, a universal prevention program developed for this study, consisted of a six-session training program for parents focusing on building positive expectations and social competency in children. Parents rated the program positively and attended well, especially highly stressed parents who thus became over-represented in the treatment group as time progressed. Despite this difficulty with interpreting results, the intervention resulted in decreases in child problems via teacher report for both internalizing and externalizing problems. However, the effect sizes were not impressive and no changes were noted in parent's diagnostic ratings. Results, directions for further research, and refinement of methods are discussed.

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