Treatment of School Refusal: One-Year Follow-up
To conduct a 1-year follow-up of anxious-depressed school-refusing adolescents who participated in an 8-week study of imipramine versus placebo, each in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Sixty-five percent (41 of 63) of the randomly assigned subjects returned for follow-up evaluation, which consisted of diagnostic interviews, clinician rating scales for anxiety and depression, family functioning measure, and a questionnaire regarding interim treatments and school programs.
From the adolescent and/or parent perspective, 64.1% met criteria for an anxiety disorder and 33.3% met criteria for a depressive disorder. Remission rates and acquisition rates for specific anxiety and depressive disorders were determined. In the follow-up period, 67.5% received at least one psychotropic medication trial and 77.5% had outpatient therapy. Higher level of somatic complaints on the Anxiety Rating for Children-Revised Physiological subscale at baseline predicted more severe depression on the Children's Depression Rating Scale-Revised at follow-up (p = .029).
In this naturalistic follow-up study, there was high utilization of mental health interventions. In addition, a substantial number of subjects met criteria for anxiety and/or depressive disorders 1 year after treatment. Investigation of duration of acute treatments and evaluation of maintenance treatments for school refusal is needed.
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