Reducing the Prevalence of Anxiety in Children and Adolescents: An Evaluation of the Evidence Base for the FRIENDS for Life Program

Abstract

Current estimates suggest that between 8 and 22% of children and adolescents may suffer from an anxiety disorder. Effective intervention efforts are therefore clearly needed to reduce the likelihood of anxious symptoms and promote healthy functioning. One intervention that appears feasible for use in schools and was designed to target anxiety symptoms is the FRIENDS for Life program. Evaluation of FRIENDS has been limited in the United States; however, criteria for evaluation of such programs are available. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to review the research base regarding the FRIENDS for Life program and apply coding procedures to examine program effectiveness. Overall, results suggested promise for use in school-based settings, given demonstrated effectiveness in reducing anxiety symptoms in both universal and targeted populations when implemented within the school ecology. Limitations of the existing evidence base, however, are discussed, thus providing direction for future research.

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Correspondence to Amy M. Briesch.

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Briesch, A.M., Hagermoser Sanetti, L.M. & Briesch, J.M. Reducing the Prevalence of Anxiety in Children and Adolescents: An Evaluation of the Evidence Base for the FRIENDS for Life Program. School Mental Health 2, 155–165 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-010-9042-5

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Keywords

  • FRIENDS
  • Anxiety
  • School-based prevention
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy