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Screening and treatment of anxiety symptoms within an interdisciplinary comprehensive epilepsy center.

Youth with epilepsy (YWE) are at elevated risk for anxiety, yet anxiety is often undetected and understudied in this population. Most research on anxiety in YWE is based on parent proxy-report and broad-band measures with limited sensitivity. The aim of the current study was to: 1) examine rates of anxiety symptoms in YWE using a diagnosis-specific, self-report measure of anxiety symptoms, 2) assess differences in anxiety symptoms by sociodemographic and medical variables, and 3) evaluate changes in anxiety symptoms following a brief behavioral health intervention delivered within an interdisciplinary epilepsy clinic visit. As part of routine clinical care, 317 YWE [Mage =13.4+2.5 years (range 7-19 years); 54% female; 84% White: Non-Hispanic] completed the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children, self-report (MASC-10), with a subset completing the MASC-10 at a second timepoint (n=139). A retrospective chart review was completed and sociodemographic, medical variables and behavioral health interventions were collected. Thirty percent of YWE endorsed elevated anxiety symptoms, with higher rates in those who were younger. YWE who received a behavioral health intervention for anxiety (n=21) demonstrated greater decreases in anxiety symptoms from Time 1 to Time 2 compared to those who did not receive a behavioral intervention (n=108). The integration of psychologists into pediatric epilepsy clinics may have allowed for early identification of anxiety symptoms, as well behavioral interventions to address these symptoms, which has the potential to decrease the need for more intensive services.

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