Refining Clinical Judgment of Treatment Response and Symptom Remission Identification in Childhood Anxiety Using a Signal Detection Analysis on the Pediatric Anxiety Rating Scale

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Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine guidelines for delineating treatment response and symptom remission for children with anxiety disorder based on the five item and Pediatric Anxiety Rating Scale (PARS5), and replicate guidelines using the six item PARS (PARS6).

Methods: Participants were 73 children 7–13 years of age with a primary anxiety disorder who received computer-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety. Signal detection analyses utilizing receiver operating curve procedures were used to determine optimal guidelines for defining treatment response and symptom remission for youth with anxiety disorders on the PARS5 and PARS6. The percent reduction in anxiety severity was used to predict treatment responder status. The percent reduction in symptoms and posttreatment raw score were used to predict remission status.

Results: Optimal prediction of treatment response based on gold standard criteria was achieved at 15–20% reduction in symptoms on the PARS5 (with 20% reduction achieving marginally higher accuracy), and 20% reduction on the PARS6. A 25% reduction in symptoms on the PARS5 or a posttreatment raw score cutoff of 9 optimally predicted remission status. For the PARS6, a cutoff of 35% reduction or a posttreatment score of 11, was considered optimal for determining remission in clinical settings, whereas a 30% reduction or score of 12 was considered optimal for research settings.

Conclusions: With different scoring options available for the PARS, these results provide guidelines for determining response and remission based on the PARS5 and PARS6 scores. Guidelines have implications for use in clinical trials, as well as for assessment of change in clinical practice.

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Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, v. 25, issue 9, p. 674-683