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A prospective study of childhood anxiety disorders

C G Last, S Perrin, M Hersen, A E Kazdin
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 1996, 35 (11): 1502-10

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate course and outcome of DSM-III-R anxiety disorders prospectively in clinically referred children.

METHOD: Children were blindly and repeatedly assessed with a structured diagnostic interview over a 3- to 4-year period to determine recovery from anxiety disorder and development of new psychiatric disorders. Both psychopathological (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, n = 50) and never psychiatrically ill (NPI, n = 83) controls served as comparison groups for children with anxiety disorders (n = 84).

RESULTS: The majority of children (82%) were free from their intake anxiety disorders by the end of the follow-up. Relapse of these anxiety disorders after remission was rare (8%). During follow-up, anxious children were more likely to develop new psychiatric disorders (30%), primarily new anxiety disorders (16%), than were NPI children (11% and 2%, respectively), but not psychopathological controls (42% and 10%, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, results suggest a favorable outcome with respect to diagnostic status for clinically referred children with anxiety disorders. However, these children may be at risk for new psychiatric disorders over time.

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