The identification and psychological treatment of panic disorder in adolescents: a survey of CAMHS clinicians.
Baker HJ., Waite P.
BACKGROUND: Panic disorder is experienced by around 1% of adolescents and has a significant impact on social and academic functioning. Preliminary evidence supports the effectiveness of panic disorder-specific treatment in adolescents with panic disorder; however, panic disorder may be overlooked in adolescents due to overlapping symptoms with other anxiety disorders and other difficulties being more noticeable to others. The aim of this study was to establish what training National Health Service (NHS) Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) clinicians have received in psychological therapies and panic disorder and how they identify and treat panic disorder in adolescents. METHOD: CAMHS clinicians from a range of professions (n = 427), who were delivering psychological treatments to children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, participated. They completed a cross-sectional, online survey, including a vignette describing an adolescent with panic disorder, and were asked to identify the main diagnosis or presenting problem. RESULTS: Less than half the clinicians (48.6%) identified panic disorder or panic symptoms as the main presenting problem from the vignette. The majority of clinicians suggested CBT would be their treatment approach. However, few identified an evidence-based treatment protocol for working with young people with panic disorder. Almost half the sample had received no training in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), and around a fifth had received no training in delivering psychological treatments. CONCLUSIONS: Only half of CAMHS clinicians identified panic disorder from a vignette and although CBT treatments are widely offered, only a minority of adolescents with panic disorder are receiving treatments developed for and evaluated with young people with panic disorder. There is a vital need for clinician training, the use of tools that aid identification and the implementation of evidence-based treatments within CAMHS. KEY PRACTITIONER MESSAGE: Panic disorder affects around 1% of adolescents, adversely impacting social, academic and long-term life functioning. There is preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of a panic disorder-specific treatment of panic disorder in adolescents. Clinicians struggle to identify panic disorder or suitable treatment protocols for treating adolescents, although most would use CBT as the treatment approach. There is a vital need for clinician training, tools that aid identification of young people with panic disorder and evidence-based treatments that can be delivered in routine clinical settings.