The efficacy of interventions for behaviourally inhibited preschool-aged children: A meta-analysis

Jinnie Ooi, Helen F. Dodd, Richard Meiser-Stedman, Jennifer L. Hudson, Jessica Bridges, Laura Pass

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The current systematic review and meta-analyses examined the efficacy of psychological interventions targeting behavioural inhibition and anxiety in preschool-aged children, evaluated within randomised controlled trials. Web of Science, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and CINAHL were systematically searched from inception to March 2021. Ten studies (N = 1475 children, aged 3 – 7 years) were included in the current review. Separate analyses were conducted for behavioural inhibition, anxiety symptoms, and anxiety diagnosis as reported by parents, teachers, and observer-ratings. Pooled outcomes ranged from post-intervention to 12-month follow-up due to the limited number of studies. Meta-analyses revealed that intervention did not reduce behavioural inhibition as assessed by independent observers (SMD = -.13, 95% CI = -.63 to.38), but did reduce behavioural inhibition as reported by parents (SMC = -.64, 95% CI = -1.00 to -.27) and teachers (SMD = -.69, 95% CI = -1.02 to -.36). Additionally, intervention appeared to reduce the risk of anxiety disorders (RR =.75, 95% CI =.62 to.90), and parent-report anxiety symptoms (SMC = -.47, 95% CI = -.83 to -.12) in preschool-aged children. Intervention may be efficacious in reducing anxiety in preschool-aged behaviourally inhibited children. It is less clear whether intervention leads to change in BI.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102559
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Early online date24 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Anxiety
  • Behavioural inhibition
  • Intervention
  • Meta-analysis
  • Preschool-aged

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