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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A universal prevention program for anxiety symptoms in school aged children : taming worry dragons Short, Christina

Abstract

A growing literature has investigated the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for treating children with anxiety disorders; however, there remains scant research to discover if cognitive-behavior therapy programs can be used as a preventative approach for anxiety. This study adds to the limited available research on the prevention of anxiety by implementing and evaluation a locally developed cognitive-behavioral intervention program, Taming Worry Dragons. This study examined the effectiveness of a school based cognitive-behavioral intervention for reducing rates of anxiety symptoms in children aged 7 to 12 years. Using a universal prevention approach, 162 children were randomly assigned (school as unit of randomization) to either an 8-week cognitive-behavioral intervention group or to a wait list control group. Children's anxiety levels were assessed before and immediately after the intervention by child self-report (Multidimensional Anxiety Screen for Children, March, 1997) and by parent reports (Behavioral Assessment Schedule for Children, Kamphaus, 1992). Results of the statistical analysis (ANCOVA) indicate that the manualized CBT intervention, which included relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, and behavioural components, was not successful in reducing symptoms of anxiety within the general population of school aged children. The children in the wait-list condition, however, did report significantly lower mean scores on the self-report measure. A separate wi thin-group analysis was performed, examining those children with elevated self-report scores only (T score of 55+ in treatment and WL groups). Those in the treatment condition significantly improved following the intervention (effect size of .8) while those in the waitlist condition remained unchanged.

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