Wednesday, 1 Feb 2023

Study examines medication hesitancy to treat childhood anxiety disorders

Both medication and a specific form of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are proven evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders.

But when CBT does not lead to improvement, do parents and their children opt to begin medication treatment? And what factors contribute to this decision?

These were the questions researchers led by the University of Cincinnati’s Jeffrey Strawn and Jeffrey Mills asked in a recent study, with the results published Dec. 5 in theJournal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Strawn, MD, said the research was a reanalysis of the Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multimodal Study (CAMS), a large trial that enrolled nearly 500 children and adolescents with generalized separation and/or social anxiety disorders. The original trial found that CBT, or talk therapy, and medications were equally effective, while the combination of the two treatments led to even better results.

The research team looked at a subset of patients who were treated with CBT but did not improve. ??Although the data from the CAMS trial has been available for some time, the question of what drives patient decision-making on further treatment choices had yet to be examined.

“For the folks who got therapy and didn’t get completely better, we wanted to try to understand if they started medication, the other effective evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders,” said Strawn, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience in UC’s College of Medicine and a UC Health child and adolescent psychiatrist.

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