Effectiveness of a Family-Based Treatment for Preventing Anxiety Disorders in At-Risk Children

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Johns Hopkins University




Anxiety Disorders


Behavioral: Information Monitoring
Behavioral: Family-based CBT

Study type


Funder types



DDTR B4-TBI (Other Identifier)
R01MH077312-01 (U.S. NIH Grant/Contract)
R01MH077312 (U.S. NIH Grant/Contract)

Details and patient eligibility


This study will test the effectiveness of a family-based, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based program for preventing anxiety disorders in at-risk children.

Full description

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents, and they are associated with short- and long-term impairment in social, academic, familial, and psychological functioning. The children of parents with anxiety disorders are more likely to develop anxiety disorders themselves, because of genetic factors and the atmosphere in which they are raised. Previous research indicates that the risk of anxiety disorders among children can be reduced through preventive therapeutic interventions. In children with anxiety disorders whose parents also have anxiety disorders, therapy that includes their family is more successful than therapy focused only on the child. This study will test the effectiveness of a preventive, family-based therapy for children whose parents have anxiety disorders. Participation in this study will last 1 year. First, interested participants will be asked to perform a screening assessment. This will include providing information about the symptoms, behaviors, and functioning of parent and child participants; filling out questionnaires; and videotaping the child and parent participants interacting. If, after the screening, participants are selected to continue with the study, they will be randomly assigned to receive either information monitoring or family-based cognitive behavioral therapy. Child and parent participants assigned to information monitoring will receive a booklet with information on coping with anxiety. Child and parent participants assigned to family-based cognitive behavioral therapy will meet with a study clinician for eight, weekly, 1-hour intervention visits, during which participants will learn skills to reduce anxiety. After completing the weekly visits, participants in this group will also receive three monthly booster sessions, in which coping skills will be reviewed. In addition to the screening visit, all participants will undergo identical assessments at three more time periods: 9 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months after entering the study. All participants will also receive monthly phone calls throughout the study to monitor the children's anxiety symptoms.


136 patients




6 to 13 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Parents of child participant have a current, primary anxiety disorder

Exclusion criteria

  • Child has an anxiety disorder or is currently in treatment for anxiety

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

136 participants in 2 patient groups, including a placebo group

Family-based CBT
Experimental group
Family-based CBT. Participants will receive family-based cognitive behavioral therapy. Families in this group will learn about how to identify the signs and symptoms of anxiety, ways to cope with anxiety, relaxation techniques, and problem-solving skills. They will participate in 8, one-hour sessions, once/week with trained clinicians and 3 monthly booster sessions to reinforce what they learned.
Behavioral: Family-based CBT
Information Monitoring
Placebo Comparator group
Information Monitoring. Participants will receive a packet of information about anxiety. Participants in this group will be called monthly to monitor symptoms of anxiety.
Behavioral: Information Monitoring

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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