Using Symptom and Interference Questionnaires to Identify Recovery Among Children With Anxiety Disorders
Questionnaires are widely used in routine clinical practice to assess treatment outcomes for children with anxiety disorders. This study was conducted to determine whether 2 widely used child and parent report questionnaires of child anxiety symptoms and interference (Spence Child Anxiety Scale [SCAS-C/P] and Child Anxiety Impact Scale [CAIS-C/P]) accurately identify recovery from common child anxiety disorder diagnoses as measured by a ‘gold-standard’ diagnostic interview. Three hundred thirty-seven children (7–12 years, 51% female) and their parents completed the ADIS-IV-C/P diagnostic interview and questionnaire measures (SCAS-C/P and CAIS-C/P) before (Time 1) and after (Time 2) treatment or wait-list. Time 2 parent reported interference (CAIS-P) was found to be a good predictor of absence of any diagnoses (area under the curve [AUC] = .81). In terms of specific diagnoses, Time 2 SCAS-C/P separation anxiety subscale (SCAS-C/P-SA) identified recovery from separation anxiety disorder well (SCAS-C-SA, AUC = .80; SCAS-P-SA, AUC = .82) as did the CAIS-P (AUC = .79). The CAIS-P also successfully identified recovery from social phobia (AUC = .78) and generalized anxiety disorder (AUC = .76). These AUC values were supported by moderate to good sensitivity (.70–.78) and specificity (.70–.73) at the best identified cut-off scores. None of the measures successfully identified recovery from specific phobia. The results suggest that questionnaire measures, particularly the CAIS-P, can be used to identify whether children have recovered from common anxiety disorders, with the exception of specific phobias. Cut-off scores have been identified that can guide the use of routine outcome measures in clinical practice.