There is much to like about the randomized clinical trial reported by Weersing et al1 in JAMA Psychiatry this month. Most importantly, this is a clinical trial that evaluated an adapted, transdiagnostic mental health intervention for use in pediatric primary care settings. Brief behavioral therapy (BBT) demonstrated efficacy compared with assisted referral to usual care for children and adolescents ages 8 to 16 years and older with anxiety and depression. The efficacy of BBT is particularly telling given the low response rate to treatment as usual in the control condition (57% vs 28%), especially for Hispanic populations (76% vs 7%). Bringing mental health care to pediatric primary care is the only chance we have to meet the behavioral health needs of the approximately 20% of children and adolescents who are likely to develop mental health problems before graduating from high school.2 Although we still have a long way to go,3,4 the pioneering intervention, BBT, is a big step in the right direction.
Walkup JT, Mathews T, Green CM. Transdiagnostic Behavioral Therapies in Pediatric Primary Care: Looking Ahead. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(6):557–558. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0448
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