School-based cognitive behavioral interventions for anxious youth

study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Bente Storm Mowatt Haugland*, Solfrid Raknes, Aashild Tellefsen Haaland, Gro Janne Wergeland, Jon Fauskanger Bjaastad, Valborg Baste, Joe Himle, Ron Rapee, Asle Hoffart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Anxiety disorders are prevalent among adolescents and may have long-lasting negative consequences for the individual, the family and society. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment. However, many anxious youth do not seek treatment. Low-intensity CBT in schools may improve access to evidence-based services. We aim to investigate the efficacy of two CBT youth anxiety programs with different intensities (i.e., number and length of sessions), both group-based and administered as early interventions in a school setting. The objectives of the study are to examine the effects of school-based interventions for youth anxiety and to determine whether a less intensive intervention is non-inferior to a more intensive intervention. Methods/design: The present study is a randomized controlled trial comparing two CBT interventions to a waitlist control group. A total of 18 schools participate and we aim to recruit 323 adolescents (12-16 years). Youth who score above a cutoff on an anxiety symptom scale will be included in the study. School nurses recruit participants and deliver the interventions, with mental health workers as co-therapists and/or supervisors. Primary outcomes are level of anxiety symptoms and anxiety-related functional impairments. Secondary outcomes are level of depressive symptoms, quality of life and general psychosocial functioning. Non-inferiority between the two active interventions will be declared if a difference of 1.4 or less is found on the anxiety symptom measure post-intervention and a difference of 0.8 on the interference scale. Effects will be analyzed by mixed effect models, applying an intention to treat procedure. Discussion: The present study extends previous research by comparing two programs with different intensity. A brief intervention, if effective, could more easily be subject to large-scale implementation in school health services. Trial registration:, NCT02279251. Registered on 15 October 2014. Retrospectively registered.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. 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.


  • anxiety
  • adolescents
  • school-based
  • low-intensity CBT

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