With point prevalence estimates ranging from 12 percent to 20 percent, anxiety disorders are among the most common conditions affecting children and adolescents. The three most commonly impairing childhood-onset anxiety disorders are separation anxiety disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder. As a group, these disorders routinely co-occur and cause clinically significant distress and impairment affecting school, social, and family functioning. Left untreated, these disorders leave children at risk for anxiety disorders, major depression and, in some cases, substance abuse extending into late adolescence and adulthood. Hence, effective treatments for childhood-onset anxiety disorders promise to alleviate and perhaps to prevent long-term morbidity and even mortality. In randomized controlled trials, we have shown that two monotherapies, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), fluvoxamine (FLV), are effective treatments for separation anxiety, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Even though the monotherapies are effective a substantial number of patients remain symptomatic following treatment and, might have benefited from combined treatment. There are as yet no systematic, controlled studies comparing CBT and an SSRI, alone or in combination, against a control condition in the same patient population. This revised application proposes a four-year, six site, randomized controlled efficacy trial comparing cognitive-behavioral (CBT) and pharmacological treatment for youth ages 7 to 16 years with anxiety disorders. Phase I is a 12-week, random assignment acute efficacy study comparing CBT, FLV, their combination (n=90, each condition), and pill placebo control (n=48) in 318 (53/site) youth with DSM-IV primary diagnoses of separation anxiety, social phobia, and/or generalized anxiety disorder. Phase II involves a 6-month treatment maintenance period for Phase I responders. All subjects regardless of response status will be evaluated at all scheduled assessment points. In addition to comprehensive parent, child, clinician, and teacher reports, the primary outcome variables will be assessed by blind independent evaluators. Manualized intervention and assessment protocols plus state-of-the-art quality assurance and adverse event monitoring procedures insure uniform cross-site administration of the study protocol.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-NRB-G (03))
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Vitiello, Benedetto
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Johns Hopkins University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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