One session treatment for specific phobias in children: comorbid anxiety disorders and treatment outcome

Sarah M. Ryan*, Marlene V. Strege, Ella L. Oar, Thomas H. Ollendick

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background and objectives One-Session Treatment (OST) for specific phobias has been shown to be effective in reducing phobia severity; however, the effect of different types of co-occurring anxiety disorders on OST outcomes is unknown. The present study examined (1) the effects of co-occurring generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), or another non-targeted specific phobia (OSP) on the efficacy of OST for specific phobias, and (2) the effects of OST on these co-occurring disorders following treatment. Methods Three groups of 18 youth (7–15 years) with a specific phobia and comorbid GAD, SAD, or OSP were matched on age, gender, and phobia type. Outcome measures included diagnostic status and severity, and clinician rated improvement. Results All groups demonstrated an improvement in their specific phobia following treatment. Treatment was equally effective regardless of co-occurring anxiety disorder. In addition, comorbid anxiety disorders improved following OST; however, this effect was not equal across groups. The SAD group showed poorer improvement in their comorbid disorder than the GAD group post-treatment. However, the SAD group continued to improve and this differential effect was not evident six-months following treatment. Limitations The current study sample was small, with insufficient power to detect small and medium effect sizes. Further, the sample only included a portion of individuals with primary GAD or SAD, which may have attenuated the findings. Conclusions The current study demonstrated that co-occurring anxiety disorders did not interfere with phobia treatment. OST, despite targeting a single specific phobia type, significantly reduced comorbid symptomatology across multiple anxiety disorders.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)128-134
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
    Volume54
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

    Keywords

    • Specific phobias
    • Generalized anxiety disorder
    • Social anxiety disorder
    • Children and adolescents
    • One-session treatment

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