Implementation of internet-delivered CBT for children with anxiety disorders in a rural area: A feasibility trial

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Internet Interventions, ISSN: 2214-7829

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Maral Jolstedt; Brjánn Ljótsson; Sandra Fredlander; Tomas Tedgård; Anna Hallberg; Anki Ekeljung; Jens Högström; David Mataix-Cols; Eva Serlachius; Sarah Vigerland
Elsevier BV
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article description
Child anxiety disorders are highly prevalent and cause significant impairment. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is recommended for child anxiety disorders, but access to CBT is limited, particularly in rural areas. Internet-delivered CBT (ICBT) can help increase the availability of evidence-based interventions and evidence is beginning to accumulate to indicate that ICBT is efficacious for children with anxiety disorders. However, whether the results of controlled trials are transferrable to real-world clinical settings is unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether therapist-guided ICBT is feasible and potentially effective when implemented in an outpatient clinic in rural Sweden. Children ( N = 19) aged 8–12 with anxiety disorders underwent a 12-week ICBT program called BiP Anxiety. Feasibility measures included treatment satisfaction, compliance and feedback from clinicians. Clinical outcome measures were clinician-, parent- and child ratings of anxiety symptoms and functional impairment. Overall, participants and clinicians were satisfied with the treatment content and format. There were statistically significant changes from pre- to post-treatment on the primary outcome measure ( t = − 4.371, p < 0.001), as well as on all secondary outcome measures. Therapeutic gains were maintained for up to three months from the post-treatment assessment. At follow-up, 68% were no longer in need of treatment and could be discharged from the clinic. The study suggests the feasibility of implementing ICBT in regular health care. Implementation of ICBT could dramatically increase access to evidence based treatment for children with anxiety disorders who live far away from specialist clinics.