Predicting Anxiety Diagnoses and Severity with the CBCL-A: Improvement Relative to Other CBCL Scales?
The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) is a widely used parent-report of child and adolescent behavior. We examined the ability of the CBCL-A scale, a previously published subset of CBCL items, to predict the presence of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder (SAD), and social phobia (SoP), as well as anxiety severity, among 488 youth randomized in the Child Anxiety Multimodal Study (CAMS). We predicted that the CBCL-A’s unique inclusion of items related to somatic symptoms would better identify anxiety disorder and severity than other CBCL scales, given that somatic complaints are often key features of anxiety among youth. Results support the use of the anxiety-based CBCL subscales as first-line screeners for generally elevated symptoms of anxiety, rather than tools to identify specific anxiety disorders. Although somatic symptoms are often reported and included in diagnostic criteria for certain anxiety disorders (e.g., SAD, GAD), the unique combination of somatic and non-somatic symptoms for the CBCL-A subscale did not increase its ability to consistently predict the presence of specific anxiety disorders.