Parent-only psychological interventions can be effective treatments for child anxiety. Involving parents in treatment may be beneficial for children, ensuring that interventions are delivered effectively in a supportive environment. Few studies have investigated the feasibility and acceptability of parent-only interventions for child anxiety.
In this study, we report on feasibility, acceptability and preliminary clinical outcomes of a brief cognitive behavioural group intervention for parents of children (4- to 10-years-olds) experiencing anxiety in the absence of a diagnosed anxiety disorder.
Parent participants attended a three-session group intervention delivered online. We collected feasibility information (recruitment and retention rates); parents and children (when appropriate) completed acceptability and clinical outcome measures after each session. Participants were also interviewed about the acceptability of the intervention and study processes.
Nineteen parents consented to take part (child mean age 6.47, SD 1.23). Participant retention rates (68.4%) and intervention satisfaction (total mean CSQ score 28.52) were high. Calculated effect sizes were moderate to large for parent-rated outcomes, small for child self-reported anxiety, and small to moderate for parent confidence/efficacy. Thematic analysis of interview data identified benefits, such as connecting with parents and learning strategies, as well as challenges associated with the intervention.
Attendance appeared to be associated with positive changes for parents and children. Overall, participants found this to be an acceptable and useful intervention. These findings demonstrated the potential benefit of a brief intervention for parents of anxious children. A larger trial is required to further investigate these preliminary findings.