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1.  Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorders: a randomized, controlled trial 
Background
Children with autism spectrum disorders often present with comorbid anxiety disorders that cause significant functional impairment. This study tested a modular cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program for children with this profile. A standard CBT program was augmented with multiple treatment components designed to accommodate or remediate the social and adaptive skill deficits of children with ASD that could pose barriers to anxiety reduction.
Method
Forty children (7–11 years old) were randomly assigned to 16 sessions of CBT or a 3-month waitlist (36 completed treatment or waitlist). Therapists worked with individual families. The CBT model emphasized behavioral experimentation, parent-training, and school consultation. Independent evaluators blind to treatment condition conducted structured diagnostic interviews and parents and children completed anxiety symptom checklists at baseline and posttreatment/postwaitlist.
Results
In intent-to-treat analyses, 78.5% of the CBT group met Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale criteria for positive treatment response at posttreatment, as compared to only 8.7% of the waitlist group. CBT also out-performed the waitlist on diagnostic outcomes and parent reports of child anxiety, but not children's self-reports. Treatment gains were maintained at 3-month follow-up.
Conclusions
The CBT manual employed in this study is one of the first adaptations of an evidence-based treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders. Remission of anxiety disorders appears to be an achievable goal among high-functioning children with autism.
doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.01948.x
PMCID: PMC4231198  PMID: 19309326
Cognitive behavioral therapy; autism spectrum disorders; anxiety disorders; parent-training
2.  Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety in Children With High-Functioning Autism: A Meta-analysis 
Pediatrics  2013;132(5):e1341-e1350.
BACKGROUND
Anxiety is a common and impairing problem in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is emerging evidence that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) could reduce anxiety in children with high-functioning ASD.
OBJECTIVE:
To systematically review the evidence of using CBT to treat anxiety in children and adolescents with ASD. Methods for this review were registered with PROSPERO (CRD42012002722).
METHODS:
We included randomized controlled trials published in English in peer-reviewed journals comparing CBT with another treatment, no treatment control, or waitlist control. Two authors independently screened 396 records obtained from database searches and hand searched relevant journals. Two authors independently extracted and reconciled all data used in analyses from study reports.
RESULTS:
Eight studies involving 469 participants (252 treatment, 217 comparison) met our inclusion criteria and were included in meta-analyses. Overall effect sizes for clinician- and parent-rated outcome measures of anxiety across all studies were d = 1.19 and d = 1.21, respectively. Five studies that included child self-report yielded an average d = 0.68 across self-reported anxiety.
CONCLUSIONS:
Parent ratings and clinician ratings of anxiety are sensitive to detecting treatment change with CBT for anxiety relative to waitlist and treatment-as-usual control conditions in children with high-functioning ASD. Clinical studies are needed to evaluate CBT for anxiety against attention control conditions in samples of children with ASD that are well characterized with regard to ASD diagnosis and co-occurring anxiety symptoms.
doi:10.1542/peds.2013-1193
PMCID: PMC3813396  PMID: 24167175
autism spectrum disorder; cognitive–behavior therapy; anxiety; children; adolescents; randomized controlled trial; meta-analysis
3.  A cognitive-behavioral intervention for emotion regulation in adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:231.
Background
Adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have difficulties in social communication; thus, these individuals have trouble understanding the mental states of others. Recent research also suggests that adults with ASD are unable to understand their own mental states, which could lead to difficulties in emotion-regulation. Some studies have reported the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in improving emotion-regulation among children with ASD. The current study will investigate the efficacy of group-based CBT for adults with ASD.
Methods/Design
The study is a randomized, waitlist controlled, single-blinded trial. The participants will be 60 adults with ASD; 30 will be assigned to a CBT group and 30 to a waitlist control group. Primary outcome measures are the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations, the Motion Picture Mind-Reading task, and an ASD questionnaire. The secondary outcome measures are the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale 26-item version, the Global Assessment of Functioning, State-trait Anxiety Inventory, Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory, and Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale. All will be administered during the pre- and post-intervention, and 12 week follow-up periods. The CBT group will receive group therapy over an 8 week period (one session per week) with each session lasting approximately 100 minutes. Group therapy will consist of four or five adults with ASD and two psychologists. We will be using visual materials for this program, mainly the Cognitive Affective Training kit.
Discussion
This trial will hopefully indicate the efficacy of group-based CBT for adults with high- functioning ASD.
Trial registration
This trial was registered in The University Hospital Medical Information Network Clinical Trials Registry No. UMIN000006236.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-231
PMCID: PMC3726296  PMID: 23880333
Autism spectrum disorders; Emotion regulation; High-functioning adults; Cognitive-behavioral therapy; Randomized controlled trial
4.  Preliminary Efficacy of a Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program for Anxious Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders 
Journal of autism and developmental disorders  2009;10.1007/s10803-009-0801-9.
Anxiety is a commonly occurring psychiatric concern in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This pilot study examined the preliminary efficacy of a manual-based intervention targeting anxiety and social competence in four adolescents with high-functioning ASD. Anxiety and social functioning were assessed at baseline, midpoint, endpoint, and 6 months following treatment. Treatment consisted of cognitive-behavioral therapy, supplemented with parent education and group social skills training. The treatment program was effective in reducing anxiety in three of the four subjects and improving the social skills in all four subjects. Recommendations for the assessment and treatment of anxiety youth with ASD such as use of self-report measures to complement clinician and parent-reports and adaptations to traditional child-based CBT, are offered.
doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0801-9
PMCID: PMC2907432  PMID: 19568924
Cognitive-behavioral therapy; Autism; Treatment; Anxiety
5.  The Coping Cat Program for Children with Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial 
The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate whether a modified version of the Coping Cat program could be effective in reducing anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Twenty-two children (ages 8–14; IQ ≥ 70) with ASD and clinically significant anxiety were randomly assigned to 16 sessions of the Coping Cat program (cognitive-behavioral therapy; CBT) or a 16-week waitlist. Children in the CBT condition evidenced significantly larger reductions in anxiety than those in the waitlist. Treatment gains were largely maintained at two-month follow-up. Results provide preliminary evidence that a modified version of the Coping Cat program may be a feasible and effective program for reducing clinically significant levels of anxiety in children with high-functioning ASD.
doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1541-9
PMCID: PMC3537891  PMID: 22588377
cognitive-behavioral therapy; autism spectrum disorder; anxiety disorders; randomized controlled trial
6.  Sensitization of catastrophic cognition in cognitive-behavioral therapy for panic disorder 
BMC Psychiatry  2007;7:70.
Background
Cognitive model of panic disorder have proposed that panic attacks result from the catastrophic misinterpretation of certain bodily sensations. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for panic disorder aims to change these catastrophic cognitions. CBT intervention successfully caused reduction of catastrophic cognitions and symptomatic improvement in the majority of cases. However there are some patients who fail to modify their catastrophic cognitions or rather experience an increase in them during CBT treatment. It is clinically and theoretically important to understand about cognitive sensitization of panic disorder during CBT sessions. The purpose of the present study is 1) to clarify the baseline characteristics of panic patients who would experience sensitization of their catastrophic cognitions through the CBT treatment, and 2) to examine the course of symptomatic changes for them.
Methods
Of ninety-five outpatients with panic disorder started the group CBT program for treatment of panic disorder, seventy-nine completer were classified as "cognitively sensitized (CS)" or "cognitive responding (CR)" or "no-responder" according to the difference of the Agoraphobic Cognitions Questionnaire score across treatment. We compared the CS and CR patients in terms of their baseline clinical characteristics. Then we assessed the symptomatic and functional changes for both groups.
Results
At the start of the CBT program, despite of the same degree of panic disorder severity, CS scored significantly lower on ACQ score than CR. CS also showed significantly lower score on anticipatory anxiety compared to CR. At the end of treatment CS showed significant improvement in severity of panic disorder, although the degree of improvement was smaller than that for CR. Then CS would progressively reduce their agoraphobic fear and avoidance, and would improve their functional impairment up to three month of follow-up.
Conclusion
Panic patients who would experience sensitization of their catastrophic cognitions through the CBT treatment could nonetheless gradually improve. They showed a relatively low level of catastrophic cognition and anticipatory anxiety before starting the CBT program. We might conclude that temporary sensitization of catastrophic cognition may be necessary before improvement especially among those with initially low catastrophic body sensation fears and that we need not be concerned too much with temporary increase in catastrophic cognition in the process of CBT for panic disorder.
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-7-70
PMCID: PMC2211294  PMID: 18067686
7.  Oxytocin and vasopressin in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: Sex differences and associations with symptoms 
There has been intensified interest in the neuropeptides oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) given their role in affiliative and social behavior in animals, positive results of treatment studies using OT, and findings that genetic polymorphisms in the AVP-OT pathway are present in individuals with ASD. Nearly all such studies in humans have focused only on males. With this preliminary study, we provide basic and novel information on the involvement of OT and AVP in autism with an investigation of blood plasma levels of these neuropeptides in 75 preadolescent and adolescent girls and boys ages 8–18: 40 with high-functioning ASD (19 girls, 21 boys) and 35 typically developing children (16 girls, 19 boys). We related neuropeptide levels to social, language, repetitive behavior, and internalizing symptom measures in these individuals. There were significant gender effects: Girls showed higher levels of OT while boys had significantly higher levels of AVP. There were no significant effects of diagnosis on OT or AVP. Higher OT values were associated with greater anxiety in all girls and with better pragmatic language in all boys and girls. AVP levels were positively associated with restricted and repetitive behaviors in girls with ASD but negatively (non-significantly) associated with these behaviors in boys with ASD. Our results challenge the prevailing view that plasma OT levels are lower in individuals with ASD and suggest there are distinct and sexually dimorphic mechanisms of action for OT and AVP underlying anxiety and repetitive behaviors.
Lay Abstract
Oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) are neuropeptides that are involved in affiliative and social behavior. Previous studies have shown that boys with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have lower levels of OT than boys without ASD, and treatment studies have found that intranasal infusions of OT increase social behaviors in mostly males with ASD. With this study, we provide basic and novel information on the involvement of OT and AVP in ASD with an investigation of blood plasma levels of these neuropeptides in 75 preadolescent and adolescent girls and boys ages 8–18: 40 with high-functioning ASD and 35 typically developing children. We related OT and AVP levels to social, language, repetitive behavior, and internalizing symptom measures in these individuals. Girls had higher levels of OT while boys had higher levels of AVP. There were no differences in OT or AVP levels between the ASD and typically developing groups. Higher OT values were associated with greater anxiety in all girls and with less impaired social language in all boys and girls. Higher levels of AVP were associated with greater restricted and repetitive behaviors in girls with ASD whereas lower levels of AVP levels were associated with lower levels of these behaviors in boys with ASD. Results challenge the prevailing view that OT levels are lower in individuals with ASD, and suggest there are distinct mechanisms of action for OT and AVP underlying anxiety and repetitive behavior symptoms for boys versus girls.
doi:10.1002/aur.1270
PMCID: PMC3657571  PMID: 23413037
Neuropeptides; oxytocin; vasopressin; autism; sex differences; repetitive behaviors; anxiety
8.  Non-Specialist Psychosocial Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Intellectual Disability or Lower-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001572.
In a systematic review, Brian Reichow and colleagues assess the evidence that non-specialist care providers in community settings can provide effective interventions for children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The development of effective treatments for use by non-specialists is listed among the top research priorities for improving the lives of people with mental illness worldwide. The purpose of this review is to appraise which interventions for children with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders delivered by non-specialist care providers in community settings produce benefits when compared to either a no-treatment control group or treatment-as-usual comparator.
Methods and Findings
We systematically searched electronic databases through 24 June 2013 to locate prospective controlled studies of psychosocial interventions delivered by non-specialist providers to children with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders. We screened 234 full papers, of which 34 articles describing 29 studies involving 1,305 participants were included. A majority of the studies included children exclusively with a diagnosis of lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders (15 of 29, 52%). Fifteen of twenty-nine studies (52%) were randomized controlled trials and just under half of all effect sizes (29 of 59, 49%) were greater than 0.50, of which 18 (62%) were statistically significant. For behavior analytic interventions, the best outcomes were shown for development and daily skills; cognitive rehabilitation, training, and support interventions were found to be most effective for improving developmental outcomes, and parent training interventions to be most effective for improving developmental, behavioral, and family outcomes. We also conducted additional subgroup analyses using harvest plots. Limitations include the studies' potential for performance bias and that few were conducted in lower- and middle-income countries.
Conclusions
The findings of this review support the delivery of psychosocial interventions by non-specialist providers to children who have intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Given the scarcity of specialists in many low-resource settings, including many lower- and middle-income countries, these findings may provide guidance for scale-up efforts for improving outcomes for children with developmental disorders or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders.
Protocol Registration
PROSPERO CRD42012002641
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Newborn babies are helpless, but over the first few years of life, they acquire motor (movement) skills, language (communication) skills, cognitive (thinking) skills, and social (interpersonal interaction) skills. Individual aspects of these skills are usually acquired at specific ages, but children with a development disorder such as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability (mental retardation) fail to reach these “milestones” because of impaired or delayed brain maturation. Autism, Asperger syndrome, and other ASDs (also called pervasive developmental disorders) affect about 1% of the UK and US populations and are characterized by abnormalities in interactions and communication with other people (reciprocal socio-communicative interactions; for example, some children with autism reject physical affection and fail to develop useful speech) and a restricted, stereotyped, repetitive repertoire of interests (for example, obsessive accumulation of facts about unusual topics). About half of individuals with an ASD also have an intellectual disability—a reduced overall level of intelligence characterized by impairment of the skills that are normally acquired during early life. Such individuals have what is called lower-functioning ASD.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most of the children affected by developmental disorders live in low- and middle-income countries where there are few services available to help them achieve their full potential and where little research has been done to identify the most effective treatments. The development of effective treatments for use by non-specialists (for example, teachers and parents) is necessary to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses worldwide, but particularly in resource-limited settings where psychiatrists, psychologists, and other specialists are scarce. In this systematic review, the researchers investigated which psychosocial interventions for children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning ASDs delivered by non-specialist providers in community settings produce improvements in development, daily skills, school performance, behavior, or family outcomes when compared to usual care (the control condition). A systematic review identifies all the research on a given topic using predefined criteria; psychosocial interventions are defined as therapy, education, training, or support aimed at improving behavior, overall development, or specific life skills without the use of drugs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 29 controlled studies (investigations with an intervention group and a control group) that examined the effects of various psychosocial interventions delivered by non-specialist providers to children (under 18 years old) who had a lower-functioning ASD or intellectual disability. The researchers retrieved information on the participants, design and methods, findings, and intervention characteristics for each study, and calculated effect sizes—a measure of the effectiveness of a test intervention relative to a control intervention—for several outcomes for each intervention. Across the studies, three-quarters of the effect size estimates were positive, and nearly half were greater than 0.50; effect sizes of less than 0.2, 0.2–0.5, and greater than 0.5 indicate that an intervention has no, a small, or a medium-to-large effect, respectively. For behavior analytic interventions (which aim to improve socially significant behavior by systematically analyzing behavior), the largest effect sizes were seen for development and daily skills. Cognitive rehabilitation, training, and support (interventions that facilitates the relearning of lost or altered cognitive skills) produced good improvements in developmental outcomes such as standardized IQ tests in children aged 6–11 years old. Finally, parental training interventions (which teach parents how to provide therapy services for their child) had strong effects on developmental, behavioral, and family outcomes.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Because few of the studies included in this systematic review were undertaken in low- and middle-income countries, the review's findings may not be generalizable to children living in resource-limited settings. Moreover, other characteristics of the included studies may limit the accuracy of these findings. Nevertheless, these findings support the delivery of psychosocial interventions by non-specialist providers to children who have intellectual disabilities or a lower-functioning ASD, and indicate which interventions are likely to produce the largest improvements in developmental, behavioral, and family outcomes. Further studies are needed, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, to confirm these findings, but given that specialists are scarce in many resource-limited settings, these findings may help to inform the implementation of programs to improve outcomes for children with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning ASDs in low- and middle-income countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001572.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Bello-Mojeed and Bakare
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information (in English and Spanish) on developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability
The US National Institute of Mental Health also provides detailed information about autism spectrum disorders, including the publication “A Parent's Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder”
Autism Speaks, a US non-profit organization, provides information about all aspects of autism spectrum disorders and includes information on the Autism Speaks Global Autism Public Health Initiative
The National Autistic Society, a UK charity, provides information about all aspects of autism spectrum disorders and includes personal stories about living with these conditions
The UK National Health Service Choices website has an interactive guide to child development and information about autism and Asperger syndrome, including personal stories, and about learning disabilities
The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence provides clinical guidelines for the management and support of children with autism spectrum disorders
The World Health Organization provides information on its Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP), which includes recommendations on the management of developmental disorders by non-specialist providers; the mhGAP Evidence Resource Center provides evidence reviews for parent skills training for management of children with intellectual disabilities and pervasive developmental disorders and interventions for management of children with intellectual disabilities
PROSPERO, an international prospective register of systematic reviews, provides more information about this systematic review
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001572
PMCID: PMC3866092  PMID: 24358029
9.  Fear-Potentiated Startle Response Is Unrelated to Social or Emotional Functioning in Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders 
It has been suggested that atypical amygdala function contributes to the social impairments characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Previous research has demonstrated that adolescents and adults with ASD generate normal response during a fear-potentiated startle paradigm, suggesting this aspect of amygdala function is intact and may not account for the social dysfunction associated with the condition. The amygdala also plays a crucial role in the expression of anxiety and may contribute to high rates of reported anxiety in individuals with ASD. The present study partially replicates prior work by examining the fear-potentiated startle response in adolescents with ASD, and extends this to investigate the relationship between startle response and anxiety. Eyeblink magnitude and latency (electromyographic activity; EMG) were collected from 20 adolescents with ASD and 19 typically developing (TD) age-matched adolescents during a fear-potentiated startle paradigm. Parent report and self-report of anxiety and additional psychiatric symptoms were collected. Parental reports indicated higher rates of associated psychopathology in adolescents with ASD compared with TD adolescents. Consistent with previous results, both groups showed normal potentiated startle response, and no group differences in EMG were found. Symptoms of anxiety and level of social impairment were unrelated to startle response. These findings held for all levels of anxiety, suggesting that within the context of the fear-potentiated startle paradigm, amygdala response is not associated with degree of atypical social or emotional functioning in ASD.
doi:10.1002/aur.1289
PMCID: PMC4141562  PMID: 23495221
autism spectrum disorders; anxiety; startle response; amygdala
10.  A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Brief Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety in Patients with Terminal Cancer 
The Oncologist  2012;17(10):1337-1345.
This article presents a pilot randomized controlled trial that examined the feasibility and potential efficacy of brief cognitive-behavioral therapy to reduce anxiety in patients with terminal cancer.
Learning Objectives
After completing this course, the reader will be able to: Explain the current state of evidence-based treatment for anxiety in patients with cancer and the need for tailored intervention, especially for those with terminal cancer.Discuss and utilize methods for increasing access to psychosocial intervention for patients with cancer who suffer significant physical and psychological morbidity.Describe the effect of a brief cognitive-behavioral therapy intervention tailored to the needs of patients with terminal cancer and comorbid anxiety symptoms.
This article is available for continuing medical education credit at CME.TheOncologist.com
Introduction.
Patients with terminal cancer often experience marked anxiety that is associated with poor quality of life. Although cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders, the approach needs to be adapted to address realistic concerns related to having cancer, such as worries about disease progression, disability, and death. In this pilot randomized controlled trial (clinicaltrials.gov identifier NCT00706290), we examined the feasibility and potential efficacy of brief CBT to reduce anxiety in patients with terminal cancer.
Methods.
We adapted CBT by developing treatment modules targeting skills for relaxation, coping with cancer worries, and activity pacing. Adults with incurable malignancies and elevated anxiety based on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A) were randomly assigned to individual CBT or a waitlist control group. Primary outcomes included the number of completed CBT visits and the change in HAM-A scores from baseline to 8-week follow-up per a treatment-blind evaluator. The feasibility criterion was 75% adherence to the intervention.
Results.
We randomized 40 patients with terminal cancers to CBT (n = 20) or waitlist control (n = 20) groups; 70% completed posttreatment assessments. Most patients who received CBT (80%) participated in at least five of the required six therapy sessions. Analysis of covariance models, adjusted for baseline scores, showed that those assigned to CBT had greater improvements in HAM-A scores compared to the control group, with an adjusted mean difference of –5.41 (95% confidence interval: –10.78 to –0.04) and a large effect size for the intervention (Cohen's d = 0.80).
Conclusion.
Providing brief CBT tailored to the concerns of patients with terminal cancer was not only feasible but also led to significant improvements in anxiety.
doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2012-0041
PMCID: PMC3481900  PMID: 22688670
Cancer; Anxiety; Cognitive behavior therapy; Quality of life
11.  A potentiated startle study of uncertainty and contextual anxiety in adolescents diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder 
Molecular Autism  2013;4:31.
Background
Beyond the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), associated symptoms of anxiety can cause substantial impairment for individuals affected by ASD and those who care for them.
Methods
We utilized a potentiated startle paradigm with a puff of air to the neck as the unconditioned stimulus in order to investigate differences between response to cued fear and contextual anxiety among cognitively able adolescents diagnosed with ASD and an age- and IQ-matched typically developing group.
Results
In a threat-modulated startle paradigm, response patterns to neutral, predictable, and unpredictable conditions were comparable across typically developing and ASD youth in terms of startle response magnitude and latency. However, the ASD group showed significantly greater absolute startle responsivity at baseline and throughout the experiment, suggesting possibly enhanced general sensitivity to threatening contexts. The ASD group, but not the control group, demonstrated moderate to strong negative correlations between psychophysiological response to unpredictable threats (uncertainty) and questionnaire measures of generalized anxiety, intolerance of uncertainty, and repetitive behavior.
Conclusions
Our data suggest enhanced general reactivity among the ASD group, possibly reflecting greater sensitivity to the threatening context of the startle paradigm. Associations with the response to uncertainty may help explain shared neurobehavioral mechanisms in ASD and anxiety. This task can provide useful targets for future neuroimaging and genetics studies as well as specific avenues for intervention. We emphasize the importance of further basic and clinical research into links among these important constructs.
doi:10.1186/2040-2392-4-31
PMCID: PMC3844321  PMID: 24007557
Autism spectrum disorder; Anxiety; Fear; Potentiated startle; Eye blink; EMG; Intolerance of uncertainty; Psychophysiology; Repetitive behavior
12.  Asperger syndrome and anxiety disorders (PAsSA) treatment trial: a study protocol of a pilot, multicentre, single-blind, randomised crossover trial of group cognitive behavioural therapy 
BMJ Open  2013;3(7):e003449.
Introduction
A number of studies have established that children, adolescents and adults with Asperger syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism (HFA) have significant problems with anxiety. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for anxiety in a variety of clinical populations. There is a growing interest in exploring the effectiveness of CBT for people with AS who have mental health problems, but currently there are no known clinical trials involving adults with AS or HFA. Studies with children who have AS have reported some success. The current study aims to examine whether modified group CBT for clinically significant anxiety in an AS population is likely to be efficacious.
Methods and analysis
This study is a randomised, single-blind crossover trial. At least 36 individuals will be recruited and randomised into a treatment arm or a waiting-list control arm. During treatment, individuals will receive 3 sessions of individual CBT, followed by 21 sessions of group CBT. Primary outcome measures focus on anxiety. Secondary outcome measures focus on everyday social and psychiatric functioning, additional measures of anxiety and fear, depression, health-related quality of life and treatment cost. Assessments will be administered at pregroup and postgroup and at follow-up by researchers who are blinded to group allocation. The trial aims to find out whether or not psychological treatments for anxiety can be adapted and used to successfully treat the anxiety experienced by people with AS. Furthermore, we aim to determine whether this intervention represents good value for money.
Ethics and dissemination
The trial received a favourable ethical opinion from a National Health Service (NHS) Research Ethics Committee. All participants provided written informed consent. Findings will be shared with all trial participants, and the general public, as well as the scientific community.
Trial Registration
ISRCTN 30265294 (DOI: 10.1186/ISRCTN30265294), UKCRN 8370.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003449
PMCID: PMC3731760  PMID: 23901031
Asperger Sydrome; Anxiety disorders < PSYCHIATRY; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; Randomised Control Trial; Protocol
13.  Cognitive Bias Modification versus CBT in Reducing Adolescent Social Anxiety: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64355.
Social anxiety is a common mental disorder among adolescents and is associated with detrimental long term outcomes. Therefore, this study investigated the efficacy of two possible early interventions for adolescent social anxiety and test anxiety. An internet-based cognitive bias modification (CBM; n = 86) was compared to a school-based cognitive behavioral group training (CBT; n = 84) and a control group (n = 70) in reducing symptoms of social and test anxiety in high socially and/or test anxious adolescents aged 13–15 years. Participants (n = 240) were randomized at school level over the three conditions. CBM consisted of a 20-session at home internet-delivered training; CBT was a 10-session at school group training with homework assignments; the control group received no training. Participants were assessed before and after the intervention and at 6 and 12 month follow-up. At 6 month follow-up CBT resulted in lower social anxiety than the control condition, while for CBM, this effect was only trend-significant. At 12 month follow-up this initial benefit was no longer present. Test anxiety decreased more in the CBT condition relative to the control condition in both short and long term. Interestingly, in the long term, participants in the CBM condition improved more with regard to automatic threat-related associations than both other conditions. The results indicate that the interventions resulted in a faster decline of social anxiety symptoms, whereas the eventual end point of social anxiety was not affected. Test anxiety was influenced in the long term by the CBT intervention, and CBM lead to increased positive automatic threat-related associations.
Trial Registration
TrialRegister.nl NTR965
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064355
PMCID: PMC3653919  PMID: 23691203
14.  Working Alliance in Online Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Anxiety Disorders in Youth: Comparison With Clinic Delivery and its Role in Predicting Outcome 
Background
Substantial evidence exists that positive therapy outcomes are related to the therapist–client working alliance.
Objectives
To report two studies that examined (1) the quality of the working alliance in online cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), with minimal therapist contact, for anxiety disorders in youth, and (2) the role of working alliance and compliance in predicting treatment outcome.
Methods
Study 1 participants were 73 adolescents aged 12 to 18 years who met diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder, plus one or more of their parents. Participants were randomly assigned to clinic or online delivery of CBT, with working alliance being assessed for youth and parents after session 3. Study 2 participants were 132 children and adolescents aged 7 to 18 years who met diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder, plus one or more of their parents. Youths and parents participated in a minimally therapist-assisted online CBT program supported by brief, weekly emails and a single, short phone call.
Results
Study 1 revealed a strong working alliance for both online and clinic CBT, with no significant difference in working alliance between conditions for adolescents (F 1,73 = 0.44, P = .51, ηp 2 = 0.006, Cohen d = 0.15). Parents also reported high working alliance in both conditions, although a slight but significantly higher working alliance in clinic-based therapy (F 1,70 = 6.76, P = .01, ηp 2 = 0.09, Cohen d = 0.64). Study 2 showed a significant and substantial decrease in anxiety symptoms following online therapy (P < .001 for all outcome measures). Adolescents improved significantly more in overall functioning when working alliance (beta = .22, t 79 = 2.21, P = .03) and therapy compliance (beta = .22, t 84 = 2.22, P = .03) were higher, with working alliance also predicting compliance (beta = .38, F 1,80 = 13.10, P = .01). No such relationships were evident among younger children.
Conclusions
Working alliance is important in determining clinical outcome for online treatment for anxiety among adolescents, with minimal therapist assistance, although this was not the case for younger children.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12611000900910; http://www.anzctr.org.au/trial_view.aspx?ID=343375 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/674C4N3JJ)
doi:10.2196/jmir.1848
PMCID: PMC3414866  PMID: 22789657
Anxiety; online therapy; children; adolescents; working alliance
15.  Development of a Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention Program to Treat Anxiety and Social Deficits in Teens with High-Functioning Autism 
Anxiety is a common co-occurring problem among young people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Characterized by deficits in social interaction, communication problems, and stereotyped behavior and restricted interests, this group of disorders is more prevalent than previously realized. When present, anxiety may compound the social deficits of young people with ASD. Given the additional disability and common co-occurrence of anxiety in ASD, we developed a manual-based cognitive-behavioral treatment program to target anxiety symptoms as well as social skill deficits in adolescents with ASD [Multimodal Anxiety and Social Skills Intervention: MASSI]. In this paper, we describe the foundation, content, and development of MASSI. We also summarize data on treatment feasibility based on a pilot study that implemented the intervention.
doi:10.1007/s10567-009-0062-3
PMCID: PMC2863047  PMID: 20091348
Autism; Anxiety; Social skills; Adolescence; Intervention; Therapy
16.  Who Gets the Most Out of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety Disorders? 
Objective
The present study explored treatment dose and patient engagement as predictors of treatment outcome in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety disorders.
Method
Measures of high versus low treatment dose, and high versus low patient engagement in CBT were compared as predictors of 12 and 18 month outcomes for patients being treated for anxiety disorders with CBT (with or without concurrent pharmacotherapy) in primary care settings as part of a randomized controlled effectiveness trial of the Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management (CALM) intervention. Measures of dose (attendance, exposure completion) and engagement in CBT (homework adherence, commitment) were collected throughout treatment, and blinded follow-up phone assessments of outcome measures (12-item Brief Symptom Inventory, Patient Health Questionnaire 8, Sheehan Disability Scale) were completed at 12 and 18 months. Propensity score weighting controlled for baseline differences in demographics and symptom severity between patients with high and low dose and engagement. These analyses included the 439 patients that selected CBT as treatment modality.
Results
Completing exposures, high attendance, and being more homework adherent predicted better outcomes across all measures at 12 and 18 months, and high CBT commitment predicted better outcomes on all measures at 18 months.
Conclusions
This study found that higher treatment dose and patient engagement in CBT for anxiety disorders were stable and robust predictors of greater reductions in anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms, and functional disability.
doi:10.1037/a0033403
PMCID: PMC3990403  PMID: 23750465
Anxiety; cognitive behavioral therapy; treatment dose; patient engagement
17.  Clinical characteristics of high-functioning youth with autism spectrum disorder and anxiety 
Neuropsychiatry  2013;3(2):10.2217/npy.13.9.
SUMMARY
Aim & methods
Clinical characteristics were examined in 108 high-functioning youth (children with a full IQ scale of at least 70) with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD; aged 7–15 years) who were presenting for inclusion in one of four clinical trials examining the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy in youth with ASD and anxiety.
Results
We present baseline characteristics of this cohort, including prevalence rates of anxiety and comorbid disorders, and correlates of anxiety (e.g., comorbid diagnoses, impairment, anxiety severity and mental health services received) as a function of age and ASD diagnosis in treatment-seeking youth. Primary anxiety disorders were: 41.7% (n = 45) social phobia, 25.9% (n = 28) generalized anxiety disorder, 15.7% (n = 17) separation anxiety disorder, 12.0% (n = 13) obsessive–compulsive disorder and 4.6% (n = 5) specific phobia. Overall, 91.6% of participants (n = 99) met criteria for two or more anxiety disorders. Parents reported considerable functional impairment as measured by the Columbia Impairment Scale and anxiety severity as measured by the Pediatric Anxiety Rating Scale; this did not statistically differ as a function of ASD diagnosis or age. Anxiety severity, the number of comorbid anxiety diagnoses and total comorbid diagnoses were directly associated with parent-reported child impairment. Youth with ASD and anxiety present as a heterogeneous cohort with significant impairments and complex diagnostic presentations.
Conclusion
These data provide information about the nature of anxiety in youth with ASD, which may foster the development of tailored treatment protocols.
doi:10.2217/npy.13.9
PMCID: PMC3808966  PMID: 24179485
18.  The Impact of Brief Parental Anxiety Management on Child Anxiety Treatment Outcomes: A Controlled Trial 
Parental anxiety is a risk to optimal treatment outcomes for childhood anxiety disorders. The current trial examined whether the addition of a brief parental anxiety management (BPAM) program to family cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was more efficacious than family CBT-only in treating childhood anxiety disorders. Two hundred nine children (aged 6–13 years, 104 female, 90% Caucasian) with a principal anxiety disorder were randomly allocated to family CBT with a five-session program of BPAM (n = 109) or family CBT-only (n = 100). Family CBT comprised the Cool Kids program, a structured 12-week program that included both mothers and fathers. Overall, results revealed that the addition of BPAM did not significantly improve outcomes for the child or the parent compared to the CBT-only group at posttreatment or 6-month follow-up. Overall, however, children with nonanxious parents were more likely to be diagnosis free for any anxiety disorder compared to children with anxious parents at posttreatment and 6-month follow-up. BPAM did not produce greater reductions in parental anxiety. The results support previous findings that parent anxiety confers poorer treatment outcomes for childhood anxiety disorders. Nevertheless the addition of BPAM anxiety management for parents in its current format did not lead to additional improvements when used as an adjunct to family CBT in the treatment of the child's anxiety disorder. Future benefits may come from more powerful methods of reducing parents’ anxiety.
doi:10.1080/15374416.2013.807734
PMCID: PMC4037847  PMID: 23845064
19.  Development and Initial Evaluation of an Internet-Based Support System for Face-to-Face Cognitive Behavior Therapy: A Proof of Concept Study 
Background
Evidence-based psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), have been found to be effective in treating several anxiety and mood disorders. Nevertheless, issues regarding adherence are common, such as poor patient compliance on homework assignments and therapists’ drifting from strictly evidence-based CBT. The development of Internet-delivered CBT (ICBT) has been intensive in the past decade and results show that guided ICBT can be as effective as face-to-face CBT but also indicate a need to integrate the two forms of CBT delivery.
Objective
In this study, we developed and tested a new treatment format in which ICBT and face-to-face therapy were blended. We designed a support system accessible via the Internet (using a computer or an Apple iPad) for patients and therapists delivering CBT face-to-face. The support system included basic CBT components and a library of interventions gathered from existing ICBT manuals.
Methods
The study involved 15 patients with mild to moderate anxiety or depression (or both). Eight therapists conducted the treatments. All participants were interviewed after the nine-week intervention. Further, patients provided self-reports on clinical measures pre- and post-trial, as well as at a 12-month follow-up.
Results
A reduction was found in symptom scores across all measures. The reliable change index ranged from 60% to 87% for depression and anxiety. Large effect sizes (Cohen’s d) ranging from 1.62 (CI 95% 0.59-2.66) to 2.43 (CI 95% 1.12-3.74) were found. There were no missing data and no treatment dropouts. In addition, the results had been maintained at the 12-month follow-up. Qualitative interviews revealed that the users perceived the support system as beneficial.
Conclusions
The results suggest that modern information technology can effectively blend with face-to-face treatments and be used to facilitate communication and structure in therapy, thus reducing therapist drift.
doi:10.2196/jmir.3031
PMCID: PMC3868964  PMID: 24326065
cognitive behavior therapy; Internet; anxiety; depression; Apple iPad
20.  A Randomized Controlled Trial of Telephone-Delivered Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Late-life Anxiety Disorders 
Objectives
Older adults face a number of barriers to receiving psychotherapy, such as a lack of transportation and access to providers. One way to overcome such barriers is to provide treatment by telephone. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy delivered by telephone (CBT-T) to older adults diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Design
Randomized controlled trial.
Setting
Participants' homes.
Participants
Sixty participants ≥ 60 years of age with a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, or Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Intervention
CBT-T vs. information-only comparison.
Measurements
Co-primary outcomes included worry (Penn State Worry Questionnaire) and general anxiety (State Trait Anxiety Inventory). Secondary outcomes included clinician-rated anxiety (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale), anxiety sensitivity (Anxiety Sensitivity Index), depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory), quality of life (SF-36), and sleep (Insomnia Severity Index). Assessments were completed prior to randomization, immediately upon completion of treatment, and 6 months after completing treatment.
Results
CBT-T was superior to information-only in reducing general anxiety (ES = 0.71), worry (ES = 0.61), anxiety sensitivity (ES = 0.85), and insomnia (ES = 0.82) at the post-treatment assessment; however, only the reductions in worry were maintained by the 6 month follow-up assessment (ES = 0.80).
Conclusions
These results suggest that CBT-T may be efficacious in reducing anxiety and worry in older adults, but additional sessions may be needed to maintain these effects.
doi:10.1097/JGP.0b013e31822ccd3e
PMCID: PMC3407971  PMID: 22828172
anxiety; cognitive-behavioral therapy; elderly; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; Panic Disorder; telephone-delivered psychotherapy
21.  Brief Report: Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on Parent-Reported Autism Symptoms in School-Age Children with High-Functioning Autism 
This pilot study tested the effect of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on parent-reported autism symptoms. Nineteen children with autism spectrum disorders and an anxiety disorder (7–11 years old) were randomly assigned to 16 sessions of CBT or a waitlist condition. The CBT program emphasized in vivo exposure supported by parent training and school consultation to promote social communication and emotion regulation skills. Parents completed a standardized autism symptom checklist at baseline and posttreatment/postwaitlist and 3-month follow-up assessments. CBT outperformed the waitlist condition at posttreatment/postwaitlist on total parent-reported autism symptoms (Cohen’s d effect size = .77). Treatment gains were maintained at 3-month follow-up. Further investigation of this intervention modality with larger samples and broader outcome measures appears to be indicated.
doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0791-7
PMCID: PMC2759867  PMID: 19562475
Cognitive behavioral therapy; Autism spectrum disorders; School-aged children
22.  Delivery of Evidence-Based Treatment for Multiple Anxiety Disorders in Primary Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Context
Improving the quality of mental health care requires moving clinical interventions from controlled research settings into “real world” practice settings. While such advances have been made for depression, little work has been done for anxiety disorders.
Objective
To determine whether a flexible treatment-delivery model for multiple primary care anxiety disorders (panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and/or posttraumatic stress disorders) would be superior to usual care.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Randomized controlled effectiveness trial of CALM (“Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management”) compared to usual care (UC) in 17 primary care clinics in 4 US cities. Between June 2006 and April 2008, 1004 patients with anxiety disorders (with or without major depression), age 18–75, English- or Spanish-speaking, enrolled and subsequently received treatment for 3–12 months. Blinded follow-up assessments at 6, 12, and 18 months after baseline were completed in October 2009.
Intervention(s)
CALM allowed choice of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, or both; included real-time web-based outcomes monitoring to optimize treatment decisions and a computer-assisted program to optimize delivery of CBT by non-expert care managers who also assisted primary care providers in promoting adherence and optimizing medications.
Main Outcome Measure(s)
12-item Brief Symptom Inventory (anxiety and somatic symptoms) score. Secondary outcomes: Proportion of responders (≥ 50% reduction from pre-treatment BSI-12 score) and remitters (total BSI-12 score < 6).
Results
Significantly greater improvement for CALM than UC in global anxiety symptoms: BSI-12 group differences of −2.49 (95% CI, −3.59 to −1.40), −2.63 (95% CI, −3.73 to −1.54), and −1.63 (95% CI, −2.73 to −0.53) at 6, 12, and 18 months, respectively. At 12 months, response and remission rates (CALM vs. UC) were 63.66% (58.95–68.37) vs. 44.68% (39.76–49.59), and 51.49% (46.60–56.38) vs. 33.28% (28.62–37.93), with a number needed to treat (NNT) of 5.27 (4.18–7.13) for response and 5.5 (4.32–7.55) for remission.
Conclusions
For patients with anxiety disorders treated in primary care clinics, a collaborative care intervention, compared to usual care, resulted in greater improvement in anxiety symptoms, functional disability, and quality of care over 18 months.
doi:10.1001/jama.2010.608
PMCID: PMC2928714  PMID: 20483968
23.  Early neural activation during facial affect processing in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2014;7:203-212.
Impaired social interaction is one of the hallmarks of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Emotional faces are arguably the most critical visual social stimuli and the ability to perceive, recognize, and interpret emotions is central to social interaction and communication, and subsequently healthy social development. However, our understanding of the neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying emotional face processing in adolescents with ASD is limited. We recruited 48 adolescents, 24 with high functioning ASD and 24 typically developing controls. Participants completed an implicit emotional face processing task in the MEG. We examined spatiotemporal differences in neural activation between the groups during implicit angry and happy face processing. While there were no differences in response latencies between groups across emotions, adolescents with ASD had lower accuracy on the implicit emotional face processing task when the trials included angry faces. MEG data showed atypical neural activity in adolescents with ASD during angry and happy face processing, which included atypical activity in the insula, anterior and posterior cingulate and temporal and orbitofrontal regions. Our findings demonstrate differences in neural activity during happy and angry face processing between adolescents with and without ASD. These differences in activation in social cognitive regions may index the difficulties in face processing and in comprehension of social reward and punishment in the ASD group. Thus, our results suggest that atypical neural activation contributes to impaired affect processing, and thus social cognition, in adolescents with ASD.
Highlights
•The ability to recognize and interpret emotions is central to social interaction.•Deficits in social interactions are hallmarks of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).•Adolescents with and without ASD completed an emotional face task in MEG.•MEG data showed atypical neural activity in ASD to both angry and happy faces.•Insula, cingulate, temporal and orbitofrontal activities were particularly affected in the ASD group.
doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2014.11.009
PMCID: PMC4300004  PMID: 25610782
Implicit face processing; Adolescents; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Magnetoencephalography; Affect processing; Anterior cingulate cortex
24.  Comparing In-Person to Videoconference-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Mood and Anxiety Disorders: Randomized Controlled Trial 
Background
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has demonstrated efficacy and effectiveness for treating mood and anxiety disorders. Dissemination of CBT via videoconference may help improve access to treatment.
Objective
The present study aimed to compare the effectiveness of CBT administered via videoconference to in-person therapy for a mixed diagnostic cohort.
Methods
A total of 26 primarily Caucasian clients (mean age 30 years, SD 11) who had a primary Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition text revision (DSM-IV-TR) diagnosis of a mood or anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to receive 12 sessions of CBT either in-person or via videoconference. Treatment involved individualized CBT formulations specific to the presenting diagnosis; all sessions were provided by the same therapist. Participants were recruited through a university clinic. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and quality of life were assessed using questionnaires before, after, and 6 weeks following treatment. Secondary outcomes at posttreatment included working alliance and client satisfaction.
Results
Retention was similar across treatment conditions; there was one more client in the videoconferencing condition at posttreatment and at follow-up. Statistical analysis using multilevel mixed effects linear regression indicated a significant reduction in client symptoms across time for symptoms of depression (P<.001, d=1.41), anxiety (P<.001, d=1.14), stress (P<.001, d=1.81), and quality of life (P<.001, d=1.17). There were no significant differences between treatment conditions regarding symptoms of depression (P=.165, d=0.37), anxiety (P=.41, d=0.22), stress (P=.15, d=0.38), or quality of life (P=.62, d=0.13). There were no significant differences in client rating of the working alliance (P=.53, one-tailed, d=–0.26), therapist ratings of the working alliance (P=.60, one-tailed, d=0.23), or client ratings of satisfaction (P=.77, one-tailed, d=–0.12). Fisher’s Exact P was not significant regarding differences in reliable change from pre- to posttreatment or from pretreatment to follow-up for symptoms of depression (P=.41, P=.26), anxiety (P=.60, P=.99), or quality of life (P=.65, P=.99) but was significant for symptoms of stress in favor of the videoconferencing condition (P=.03, P=.035). Difference between conditions regarding clinically significant change was also not observed from pre- to posttreatment or from pretreatment to follow-up for symptoms of depression (P=.67, P=.30), anxiety (P=.99, P=.99), stress (P=.19, P=.13), or quality of life (P=.99, P=.62).
Conclusions
The findings of this controlled trial indicate that CBT was effective in significantly reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress and increasing quality of life in both in-person and videoconferencing conditions, with no significant differences being observed between the two.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ID: ACTRN12609000819224; http://www.anzctr.org.au/ACTRN12609000819224.aspx (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6Kz5iBMiV).
doi:10.2196/jmir.2564
PMCID: PMC3842436  PMID: 24252663
telepsychology; videoconferencing; cognitive behavioral therapy; anxiety; mood disorder
25.  Hybrid Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Versus Relaxation Training for Co-Occurring Anxiety and Alcohol Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial 
Objective
Treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) is far less effective for those with a co-occurring anxiety disorder. Surprisingly, adding an independent anxiety treatment to AUD treatment does not substantially improve the poor alcohol outcomes of these patients. This may reflect the lack of attention from independent treatments to the dynamic interaction of anxiety symptoms with alcohol use and drinking motivation. On the basis of this view, we assembled a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program designed to both reduce anxiety symptoms and weaken the links between the experience of anxiety and the motivation to drink.
Method
344 patients undergoing residential AUD treatment with current social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, or panic disorder were randomly assigned to receive either the CBT or an active comparison treatment, Progressive Muscle Relaxation Training (PMRT). Assessments took place immediately following treatment and 4 months later (n = 247).
Results
As predicted, the CBT group demonstrated significantly better alcohol outcomes 4 months following treatment than did the PMRT group. Although both groups experienced a substantial degree of anxiety reduction following treatment, there were no significant group differences immediately after treatment and only a slight advantage for the CBT group 4 months after treatment.
Conclusions
These findings suggest that specific interventions aimed at weakening the association between the experience of anxiety and drinking motivation play an important role in improving the alcohol outcomes of these difficult-to-treat patients beyond that of anxiety reduction alone.
doi:10.1037/a0031301
PMCID: PMC3756682  PMID: 23276124
anxiety disorder; alcohol use disorder; cognitive behavioral therapy; comorbidity

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