Category: Child / Adolescent - Anxiety
Specific phobias (SPs) are the most common anxiety disorders in youth (Merikangas et al., 2010). SPs are characterized by excessive fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation (APA, 2013). Currently, one-session treatment (OST)—a single session therapy based on cognitive behavioral therapy —is regarded as a rapid and effective intervention for youth with SPs (Ollendick & Davis, 2013). However, no research to date has examined the transportability of OST and whether it is equally effective for families who need to travel long distances to receive treatment. As such, the present study examined whether pre and post treatment outcomes differed across the two samples. We predicted that out of town youth would demonstrate higher clinician severity ratings and poorer global functioning and that, accordingly, they would do less well in treatment.
Data were collected as part of an NIMH-funded treatment study examining the effectiveness of OST for youth with a specific phobia (n=83, Ollendick et al., 2015). The clinician’s rating on the severity of the SP as well as the presence of other co-occurring psychological problems was assessed using the clinician administered Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for DSM-IV (Silverman & Albano, 2008). The Clinical Global Assessment Scale (CGAS; Shaffer et al., 1982), a clinician-assigned index of global functioning, was analyzed in order to assess for potential differences in global functioning among the two cohorts.
Chi square analyses comparing the number of youth with a primary diagnosis of SP at pre-treatment yielded statistically significant differences, χ2 (1) = 5.78, p = .020 with the long distance sample having a greater proportion of youth with a primary diagnosis of SP. An independent samples t-test was conducted to compare the CSRs at pre and post treatment for the local and long distance samples. For pre-treatment, unexpectedly, there was no significant differences in CSRs for local (M=6.33, SD=.99) versus long distance (M=6.76, SD=1.16) youth, indicating high levels of severity for both. There were also no significant differences in CSRs for local (M=4.18, SD=1.78) and long distance youth at post-treatment (M=4.03, SD=1.99) with both groups improving significantly. Independent samples t-tests were also conducted to compare the CGAS at pre and post treatment for the local and long distance samples. Again, unexpectedly, no significant differences were found.
Overall, these results indicate that there were no statistically significant differences in clinical severity or clinical outcomes for the two samples. However, the findings do suggest that the phobias are significant troubling to families to travel long distances for this treatment and that the phobias do respond to OST. These findings suggest that OST was an effective treatment in reducing SP severity and increasing global functioning for both samples. Clinical implications of these findings will be addressed.