Charmaine Higa-­McMillan

Charmaine Higa-­McMillan, associate professor of psychology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, with colleagues on the mainland, reviewed 111 studies on child and adolescent anxiety and identified six treatments for anxiety disorders as “well established,” the best level of research support.

Other authors of the review are Sarah Francis from the Department of Psychology at the University of Toledo, and Leslie Rith ­Najarian and Bruce Chorpita from the Department of Psychology at the University of California-Los Angeles.

The review, “Evidence Base Update: 50 Years of Research on Treatment for Child and Adolescent Anxiety,” published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, found that among the six treatments, cognitive­ behavioral therapy (CBT) is most studied and is an appropriate first line treatment for youth with anxiety disorders.

The review is part of a series in the journal to update the evidence-based literature in youth mental health treatment.

The importance of evidence-based treatment

Higa-McMillan says the field of clinical psychology began discussing the importance of evidence-based treatment about two decades ago with noted reports such as the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Promotion and Dissemination of Psychological Procedures in 1995.

“Given that the treatment outcome literature continues to grow with new research published regularly, it is important for clinicians and researchers to remain abreast of the latest and greatest when it comes to what works for whom,” explains Higa-McMillan.

She adds, “We also provide a description of the techniques derived from evidence-based treatments for youth anxiety. This is important because most clinicians are aware at this point that cognitive-behavioral therapy is well-established for youth anxiety but there are many CBT protocols that have been tested in the literature and each include a number of different strategies. We coded all of these protocols and provide clinicians with the most commonly occurring strategies across evidence-based treatments to give them a better sense of the specific practices that have been studied.”

For the full story, read the UH Hilo Stories article.

—By Susan Enright