Fitting Anxious Emotion-Focused Intervention into the Ecology of Schools: Results from a Test Anxiety Program Evaluation
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- Weems, C.F., Scott, B.G., Graham, R.A. et al. Prev Sci (2015) 16: 200. doi:10.1007/s11121-014-0491-1
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Emotion-focused prevention and intervention efforts in schools have been promoted as a significant developmental and public health priority. This paper reports the results of a longitudinal study testing central premises of a school-based prevention model aimed at promoting positive emotional development through targeting test anxiety. Test anxiety interventions may be a practical strategy for conducting emotion-focused prevention and intervention efforts because of a natural fit within the ecology of the school setting. At-risk youth (n = 1,048) from urban public schools were screened and 325 with elevated test anxiety were offered the intervention in one of two waves (immediate intervention vs. waitlist). The intervention was associated with decreases in test anxiety, anxiety disorder, and depression symptoms. Critically, results suggest high participant satisfaction and growth curve analysis of follow-up assessments (end of the year, the next school year, and a subsequent school year) demonstrated positive developmental trajectories consistent with predictions (e.g., initial change in test anxiety predicted change in other symptoms). Findings provide evidence for the ecological validity of targeting test anxiety in school-based, emotion-focused prevention efforts.