Internet-Delivered CBT Treats Social Anxiety Disorder in Youth

Internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy was more efficacious than an active comparator in reducing the severity of SAD symptoms

THURSDAY, May 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) is an efficacious and cost-effective intervention for children and adolescents with social anxiety disorder (SAD), according to a study published online May 12 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Martina Nordh, Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial to assess the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of therapist-guided ICBT (51 participants) for SAD in youths (aged 10 to 17 years) versus internet-delivered supportive therapy (ISUPPORT; 52 participants).

The researchers found that ICBT was significantly more efficacious than ISUPPORT in reducing the severity of SAD symptoms. For Clinician Severity Rating scores at the three-month follow-up, there was a significant between-group effect size of d = 0.67. Secondary outcome measures of masked assessor-rated diagnostic status of SAD and global functioning, child- and parent-reported social anxiety and depressive symptoms, and health-related costs demonstrated significant differences with small to large effect sizes. Only child-rated quality of life was nonsignificant. There were cost savings associated with ICBT versus ISUPPORT, mainly driven by savings from lower medication costs and increased school productivity in the ICBT group.

“Offering treatment digitally means that children and parents don’t have to take time off school and work to travel to a health care facility,” Nordh said in a statement. “We also believe it may lower the threshold to seeking treatment, as young people with SAD can find it too challenging to meet with unfamiliar people and to be in a new setting.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the medical publishing industry.

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