Treatment of child anxiety: an exploratory study of the role of maternal anxiety and behaviours in treatment outcome.
Creswell C., Willetts L., Murray L., Singhal M., Cooper P.
Anxiety disorders are common among parents of anxious children and have been found to impede child treatment outcomes, yet it is unclear whether it is parental anxiety that needs to be targeted in therapy or associated parental behaviours. Twenty-two children (6-12 years) with a current anxiety disorder and their mothers received cognitive-behavioural treatment (CBT) for child anxiety. In addition, of the 12 mothers who met criteria for a current anxiety disorder, 6 received CBT for their own disorder. Assessments were made of the mother-child interaction. The main findings were: (1) children did less well from treatment where their mothers had a current anxiety disorder; (2) treatment of maternal anxiety disorder did not improve child treatment outcome; and (3) maternal overinvolvement and expression of fear was associated with child treatment outcome. The results suggest that in the context of maternal anxiety disorder, child treatment outcome may be improved by specifically targeting parenting behaviours.