Background: The present study compared the efficacy of psychotherapy for childhood anxiety disorders (excluding trials solely treating post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder). Methods: The meta-analysis included studies that met the basic CONSORT (consolidated standards of reporting trials) criteria. Several outcome variables (e.g. effect sizes, percentage of recovery) were analyzed using completer and intent-to-treat analyses during post-treatment and follow-up assessment. Twenty-four studies published by March 2005 were included in this meta-analysis. Results: In all the included studies, the active treatment condition was cognitive-behavioral. The overall mean effect of treatment was 0.86. No differences in outcome were found between individual and group treatments or child- and family-focused treatments. Follow-up data demonstrated that treatment gains were maintained up to several years after treatment. Conclusions: These findings provide evidence that anxiety disorders in children can be treated efficaciously. The gathered data support the clinical utility of cognitive-behavioral therapy in this regard. Randomized controlled trial studies investigating treatments other than cognitive-behavioral therapy are missing.
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