Online treatment of adolescents with comorbid anxiety and depression: a randomized controlled trial

Carolyn A. Schniering, Danielle Einstein, Jessica J. L. Kirkman, Ronald M. Rapee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Adolescents experiencing both anxiety and mood disorders show greater life impairment than those with either disorder alone. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of an online cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) program for these comorbid youth. Methods: Ninety-one adolescents aged 12 to 17 years (M = 14.29, S.D. = 1.62; 66% female) participated if they met DSM-5 criteria for both an anxiety and depressive disorder. Diagnoses were assessed by structured interview and participants also completed measures of symptoms, negative thoughts, and life interference. Participants were randomly allocated to either active treatment (n = 45) or wait (n = 46). Treatment comprised access to an 8-module, online program and was supported by 8, 30-minute telephone sessions with a therapist and the youth, of which the caregiver participated in four. Results: Treated participants showed significantly greater reduction than waiting participants on the primary outcome: total number of disorders and were more likely to remit from all anxiety and mood disorders (43.8% vs 20.9%). Secondary outcomes covering symptoms of anxiety and depression showed similar group by time differences, but there was no significant group by time interaction on life interference. Conclusions: This brief, easily accessible, online intervention that requires relatively low levels of therapist time showed promising impact for a very impaired population. Registration: This trial was registered on the ANZ clinical trials registry-ACTRN12616000139471.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-94
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2022


  • adolescence
  • anxiety
  • comorbidity
  • depression
  • online
  • treatment


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