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A Mobile Application Adjunct to Augment Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy for Adolescents with Social Anxiety: Feasibility and Acceptability Results from the Wiring Adolescents with Social Anxiety via Behavioral Interventions Pilot Trial.

Objective: Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) is an established treatment for Social Anxiety (SA). However, diagnostic recovery rate is only 20.5% in CBGT, and up to 50% of patients remain symptomatic posttreatment. Using videocalls to deliver digital CBGT ( d CBGT) is feasible, cost-effective, and efficacious. Yet, the impact of d CBGT on social functioning remains limited, as d CBGT does not offer opportunities for monitoring cognition and behavior in social situations. Wiring Adolescents with Social Anxiety via Behavioral Interventions (WASABI), a clinician-assisted application that uses ecological momentary assessments (EMAs), cognitive bias tests, and clinical self-reports, was investigated as an adjunct to d CBGT. Methods: A prospective, parallel arm, double-blind randomized controlled trial was employed in 24 SA adolescents randomly assigned to d CBGT versus d CBGT plus WASABI. Results: Study completion rates (83%) and exit survey data indicated that WASABI is feasible and acceptable. Engagement with EMAs varied from four to 244 EMAs completed per person. Cognitive bias tests and clinical self-reports were completed at least weekly by 53% and 69% of participants, respectively. While standard tests did not reveal statistically significant differences between d CBGT plus WASABI and d CBGT alone, effect sizes were greater for d CBGT plus WASABI on symptom severity, social skills, and functioning. Conclusions: Despite the small sample, preliminary results suggest that WASABI is feasible, acceptable, and may be an effective augmentation tool for treating SA in teenagers.

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