Category: Adult Anxiety


Test of an Adolescent Anxiety Sensitivity Amelioration Program for At-Risk Youth

Sunday, November 19
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom A, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Anxiety | Anxiety Sensitivity | Adolescents
Presentation Type: Symposium

Introduction: The high prevalence and negative impact of youth anxiety disorders underscore the importance of developing evidence-based strategies for preventing anxiety development among youth. Anxiety sensitivity (AS), a malleable vulnerability factor, is a promising intervention target because it can be conceptualized as a “broad-based” risk factor. Very little work has evaluated the impact of AS reduction among youth, which is unfortunate given adolescence is a period of “core risk” in terms of anxiety disorder onset. Consistent with recommendations to target factors that cut across disorders, the current study was designed to evaluate the impact of a selective preventive intervention aimed at reducing vulnerability among at-risk adolescents. Method: 88 youth (10-14yrs) from the local community evidencing elevated AS and a parent were randomly assigned to either the Adolescent Anxiety Sensitivity Amelioration Program (AASAP), which consisted of psychoeducation and experimenter- and parent-led interoceptive exposure, or a general health information control condition. Short-term longitudinal effects of the AASAP on self-reported AS (Child Anxiety Sensitivity Index; Silverman et al., 1991) as well as panic and generalized anxiety symptoms (Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale; Chorpita et al., 2000) were evaluated. Results: Adolescents in the intervention condition evidenced significantly lower generalized anxiety symptoms (B = -1.43, p < .05), but not significantly lower panic symptoms (B = -.78, p > .05), as compared to adolescents in the control condition at the one month followup. There was a significant interaction between the different assessment points of AS (baseline, post-intervention, two week, and one month) and intervention condition (F = 3.22; p < .05). Youth AS levels in both conditions decreased from baseline to the one month assessment, but contrasts revealed this decrease was more pronounced at one month for youth in the intervention condition (F =  7.25; p < .01). Lastly, change in AS significantly mediated the relation between treatment condition and generalized anxiety symptoms (B = -.83, 95% CI [-1.69, -.24]) and also panic symptoms (B = -.61, 95% CI [-1.34, -.18]) at one month. Conclusions. The current findings offer preliminary support for the AASAP intervention as a selective intervention for at-risk adolescents. The implications of these results in terms of constructing evidence-based intervention programming targeting youth anxiety will be discussed.

Ashley Knapp

Postdoctoral Fellow
Dartmouth College


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