Preventing anxiety for children

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Schwartz, C., Waddell, C., Barican, J., Andres, C., & Gray-Grant, D. (2016). Preventing anxiety for children. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 10(2), 1–15. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: Anxiety disorders area the most common mental health concern that young people experience. Because of the frequency of these disorders and the considerable distress they cause, effective prevention efforts are greatly needed.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized control trials (RCTs) evaluating interventions for preventing anxiety disorders in children and youth. Applying our inclusion criteria to the 57 studies identified from our searches, we accepted five RCTs.

Results: Our review found two Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) based interventions that successfully prevented anxiety disorders: Coping and Promoting Strength and Dutch Anxiety Prevention. These findings add to the well-established body of evidence showing the effectiveness of CBT in preventing childhood anxiety disorders.

Conclusions: CBT should be the first choice for preventing childhood anxiety. By expanding prevention efforts, more young people can be reached before anxiety disorder develop and well before these disorders become needlessly entrenched.

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