Gaesser, A. H. (2014). Interventions to reduce anxiety for gifted children and adolescents. Doctoral Dissertations, 377, University of Connecticut. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/dissertations/377/
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Summary by Adam Boughey, Research Associate and Trainee Health Psychologist, Staffordshire University, UK
Connecticut (CT), USA
To examine the anxiety levels of gifted students an the effectiveness of two interventions: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to attenuate anxiety.
1. The anxiety levels experienced by gifted students would differ by school type, school level, and gender.
2. When compared to the control group, the participants in both the CBT and EFT groups would experience a reduction in anxiety.
3. Intervention outcomes for the EFT group would be at least equivalent to the CBT group.
Design: Two-phase study
Phase 1: Examination of anxiety experienced by gifted adolescents overall, in addition across gender and school setting.
Phase 2: Utilisation of a restricted random assignment with pretest-posttest control group design to explore differences in CBT versus EFT interventions to attenuate anxiety, for participants experiencing moderate to high levels of anxiety.
A total of 153 gifted students (grades 6-12; ages 10-18 years; M = 62; F = 91) completed anxiety measure. Following this, 63 participants scored moderate to high on anxiety and randomly assigned to CBT (n = 21), EFT (n = 21), and wait-list control (offered single-session EFT) (n = 21). Total of n = 1 attrition from EFT.
Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale-2 (RCMAS-2), Reynolds and Richmond (2008).
All students completed the RCMAS-2. Students were then randomly assigned to CBT, EFT, or wait-list control if their RCMAS-2 scores were moderate (61-70) or high (70+). Students (and their parents/guardians) were then contacted by phone to inform of their group allocation. Participants allocated to CBT and EFT received regular, individual intervention sessions outside of the regular school day.
A 2 (gender) by 3 (school type level: public middle school, public high school, and private middle school) ANOVA was conducted to determine interactions on total anxiety (pre-treatment RCMAS-2 scores).
A one-way ANOVA was conducted to determine the treatment effectiveness on total anxiety.
A one-way ANCOVA was conducted to compare treatment effectiveness on total anxiety, using pre-treatment total anxiety as a covariate.
A significant effect of gender (F[1,149] = 13.52, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.08) was found with female students reported higher total anxiety (M = 55.22, SD = 11.04) than male students (M = 46.58, SD = 11.54).
A significant effect of school setting (F[1,149] = 13.52, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.23) was found with private middle school students reporting significantly lower total anxiety (M = 44.24, SD = 9.72, p < 0.001) than public middle school students (M = 52.88, SD = 10.29, p < 0.001) and public high school students (M = 59.10, SD = 10.75, p < 0.001 ) on pre-treatment total anxiety.
Both pre-treatment total anxiety significantly accounted for post-treatment total anxiety scores (F[1,58] = 17.47, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.23), in addition to the intervention itself which was a significant factor, but accounting for less of the variance (F[1,58] = 4.186, p < 0.020, 2 = 0.12). Post-hoc analyses suggested students receiving EFT reported significantly lower post-treatment total anxiety (M = 52.163, SE = 1.42) compared with students in the wait-list control group (M = 57.93, SE = 1.39, p = 0.005). However, no significant differences were found in students post-treatment total anxiety after receiving CBT (M = 54.82, SE = 1.38) compared with wait-list control (p = 0.12) or EFT (p = 0.18).
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Anxiety can cause many concerns for those affected, and previous research on anxiety and gifted students has been inconclusive. This study examined the anxiety levels of gifted students, as well as the effectiveness of two interventions: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
Using the Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale-2 (RCMAS-2) to measure students’ anxiety levels, Phase 1 of this study examined anxiety in gifted youth (n = 153) participating in private and public gifted education programs, grades 6 -12, in two Northeastern states.
In Phase 2, a randomized controlled research design was used to investigate the effectiveness of CBT and EFT interventions for gifted adolescents. Utilizing permuted randomized assignment, participants (n = 63) identified with moderate to high levels of anxiety on the pre treatment RCMAS-2 were assigned to one of three treatment groups: a) CBT, the current gold standard of anxiety treatment, b) EFT, an innovative modality presently showing increased efficacy in anxiety treatment, and c) a wait-listed control group. Students assigned to CBT or EFT treatment groups received three individual sessions of the identified therapy from upper-level counseling, psychology, or social work students enrolled in graduate programs at a large Northeastern research university.
ANOVAs were used to assess differences in the anxiety levels, and results indicated that gender (F [1, 149] = 13.52, p < .001, η2 = .08) and school setting (F [2, 149] = 21.41, p < .001, η2 = .23) were significant factors in the anxiety levels of the gifted students in this study.
Treatment outcomes were measured by administration of the RCMAS-2 post treatment and analyzed using ANCOVA with pre treatment RCMAS-2 scores serving as the covariate. Using a Bonferroni correction of p = 0.016, EFT participants (n = 20, M = 52.163, SE = 1.42) showed significant reduction in anxiety levels when compared to the control group (n = 21, M = 57.93, SE = 1.39, p = 0.005). CBT participants (n = 21, M = 54.82, SE = 1.38) did not differ significantly from either the EFT or control groups (p = 0.12 and p = 0.18, respectively).