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INTRODUCTION: Anxiety disorders are associated with significant public health burden in young individuals. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used psychotherapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents, but previous reviews were hindered by a limited number of trials with direct comparisons between different psychotherapies and their deliveries. Consequently, the main aim of this research was to investigate the comparative efficacy and acceptability of various types and deliveries of psychotherapies for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will systematically search PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane, Web of Science, PsycINFO, CINAHL, ProQuest Dissertations and LiLACS for randomised controlled trials, regardless of whether participants received blinding or not, published from 1 January 1966 to 30 January 2015 (updated to 1 July 2015), that compared any psychotherapy with either a control condition or an active comparator with different types and/or different delivery formats for the acute treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Data extraction, risk of bias and quality assessments will be independently extracted by two reviewers. The primary outcome for efficacy will be mean overall change scores in anxiety symptoms (self-rated or assessor-rated) from baseline to post-treatment between two groups. The acceptability of treatment will be measured as the proportion of patients who discontinued treatment during the acute phase of treatment. We will assess efficacy, based on the standardised mean difference (SMD), and acceptability, based on the OR, using a random-effects network meta-analysis within a Bayesian framework. Subgroup and sensitivity analyses will be conducted to assess the robustness of the findings. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: No ethical issues are foreseen. The results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal and will be disseminated electronically and in print. The meta-analysis may be updated to inform and guide management of anxiety in children and adolescents. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: PROSPERO CRD42015016283.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





psychotherapy, Acute Disease, Adolescent, Anxiety Disorders, Child, Clinical Protocols, Disease Management, Humans, Mental Health, Psychotherapy, Research Design