Preventing onset of anxiety disorders in offspring of anxious parents: A randomized controlled trial of a family-based intervention

Golda S. Ginsburg, Kelly L. Drake, Jenn-Yun Tein, Rebekah Teetsel, Mark A. Riddle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Objective: The authors examined the efficacy of a familybased intervention to prevent the onset of anxiety disorders in offspring of anxious parents. Method: Participants were 136 families with a parent meeting DSM-IV criteria for an anxiety disorder and one child 6 13 years of age without an anxiety disorder. Families were randomly assigned to the family-based intervention (N=70) or to an information-monitoring control condition (N=66). All families were expected to complete assessments, administered by blind interviewers, at baseline, at the end of the intervention (or 8weeks after randomization) and at 6- and 12-month follow-ups. Onset of any anxiety disorder and anxiety symptom severity (assessed using the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for Children) at 12 months were the primary and secondary outcome measures, respectively. Results: The incidence of child anxiety disorders was 31% in the control group and 5% in the intervention group (odds ratio=8.54, 95% CI=2.27, 32.06). At the 1-year follow-up, youths in the control group also had higher anxiety symptoms ratings than those in the intervention group. Effect sizes weremediumto large (0.81 at6monthsand0.57 at 12months for anxiety symptoms), and the number needed to treat was 3.9 at 12 months. Significant moderators included baseline levels of child anxiety; significant mediators were parental distress and modeling of anxiety. Child maladaptive cognitions and parental anxiety did not mediate outcomes. Conclusions: A brief psychosocial prevention program holds promise for reducing the 1-year incidence of anxiety disorders among offspring of anxious parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1207-1214
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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