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BACKGROUND: Social anxiety disorder (SoAD) in youth is often treated with a generic form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Some studies have suggested that primary SoAD is associated with lower recovery rates following generic CBT compared with other anxiety disorders. AIMS: This systematic review and meta-analysis investigated recovery rates following generic CBT for youth with primary SoAD versus other primary anxiety disorders. METHOD: Five databases (PsycINFO, Web of Science, PubMed, Embase, Medline) were searched for randomised controlled trials of generic CBT for child and/or adolescent anxiety. RESULTS: Ten trials met criteria for inclusion in the systematic review, six of which presented sufficient data for inclusion in the meta-analysis. Sixty-seven did not report data on recovery rates relative to primary diagnosis. While most individual studies included in the systematic review were not sufficiently powered to detect a difference in recovery rates between diagnoses, there was a pattern of lower recovery rates for youth with primary SoAD. Across the trials included in the meta-analysis, the post-CBT recovery rate from primary SoAD (35%) was significantly lower than the recovery rate from other primary anxiety disorders (54%). CONCLUSIONS: Recovery from primary SoAD is significantly less likely than recovery from any other primary anxiety disorder following generic CBT in youth. This suggests a need for research to enhance the efficacy of CBT for youth SoAD.

Original publication




Journal article


Behav Cogn Psychother

Publication Date





352 - 369


adolescents, anxiety, children, cognitive behavioural therapy, social anxiety disorder, Adolescent, Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, Child, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Family, Humans, Phobia, Social