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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1998 Apr;37(4):395-403.

Cognitive-behavioral treatment of school-refusing children: a controlled evaluation.

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Faculty of Education, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.



To evaluate the efficacy of a 4-week cognitive-behavioral treatment program for children who refuse to go to school.


Thirty-four school-refusing children (aged 5 to 15 years) were randomly assigned to a cognitive-behavioral treatment condition or a waiting-list control condition. Treatment consisted of individual child cognitive-behavioral therapy plus parent/teacher training in child behavior management skills. Measures taken before and after treatment included school attendance, child self-report of emotional distress and coping, caregiver reports on emotional and behavioral problems, and clinician ratings of global functioning.


Relative to waiting-list controls, children who received cognitive-behavioral therapy exhibited a significant improvement in school attendance. These children also improved on self-reports of fear, anxiety, depression, and coping. Significant improvements also occurred in relation to caregiver reports and clinician ratings. Maintenance of therapeutic gains was demonstrated at a 3-month follow-up assessment.


Cognitive-behavioral treatment of school refusal was efficacious and acceptable. The relative contributions of child therapy and parent/teacher training require further study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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