Combining CBT and sertraline does not enhance outcomes for anxious youth: a double-blind randomised controlled trial

Jennifer L. Hudson*, Lauren F. McLellan, Valsamma Eapen, Ronald M. Rapee, Viviana Wuthrich, Heidi J. Lyneham

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
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    Background Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental disorder in children and young people. Developing effective therapy for these children is critical to reduce mental disorders across the lifespan. The study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of combining cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and sertraline (SERT) in the treatment of anxiety in youth, using a double-blind randomised control trial design. 

    Methods Ninety-nine youth (ages 7-15 years) with an anxiety disorder were randomly allocated to either individual (CBT) and SERT or individual CBT and pill placebo and assessed again immediately and 6 months after treatment. 

    Results There were no significant differences between conditions in remission of primary anxiety disorder or all anxiety disorders. Furthermore, there were no significant differences in rates of change in diagnostic severity, parent-reported anxiety symptoms, child-reported anxiety symptoms or life interference due to anxiety. 

    Conclusions The efficacy of CBT for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders is not significantly enhanced by combination with a short-Term course of anti-depressants over and above the combined effects of pill placebo.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1741-1749
    Number of pages9
    JournalPsychological Medicine
    Issue number5
    Early online date31 Aug 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • CBT
    • child anxiety
    • SSRI
    • treatment


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