Cognitive-behavioral treatment of school phobia

C G Last, C Hansen, N Franco
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 1998, 37 (4): 404-11

OBJECTIVE: To conduct a controlled group outcome investigation of the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral treatment for school phobia.

METHOD: Fifty-six children with school phobia were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of cognitive-behavioral therapy or an attention-placebo control condition. Pre- and posttreatment school attendance, self-reported anxiety and depression, and diagnostic status were compared.

RESULTS: Both the experimental and control treatments were equally effective at returning children to school. Both treatments also were effective in reducing children's anxiety and depressive symptoms. Follow-up revealed no differences between groups when the children reentered school the next school year.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, results suggest that psychosocial treatments are effective at returning school-phobic children to school and that the highly structured cognitive-behavioral approach may not be superior to more traditional educational and supportive treatment methods.

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