Preventing childhood anxiety disorders

Susan H. Spence, Mark R. Dadds

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Although much has been written about the need for prevention of anxiety disorders in children, there has been a marked absence of empirical research to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs. This paper suggests that there is now sufficient evidence to identify risk and protective factors for the development of childhood anxiety disorders. Early childhood temperament, negative life events, and children's coping styles are suggested to play a significant role. Acting in association with these variables are parental behaviours that serve to model, prompt, and reinforce anxious behaviour and emphasise the threatening nature of events. Our knowledge of these causal variables enables us to identify children at risk for the development of anxiety problems and highlights variables that should be targets of change in prevention programs. Indicated prevention is designed to disrupt the trajectory towards the development of clinical levels of psychological disorder. This paper describes an 'indicated' preventive program for children identified as being at risk for the development of anxiety disorders given evidence of mild anxious symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
JournalBehaviour Change
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


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