An evaluation of the FRIENDS for Life intervention with an autistic spectrum population: evaluating the impact on children's anxiety

Slack, Gemma (2013) An evaluation of the FRIENDS for Life intervention with an autistic spectrum population: evaluating the impact on children's anxiety. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This study presents an evaluation of the FRIENDS for Life program (Barrett, 2010) with an autism spectrum (AS) population. FRIENDS for Life is an intervention program underpinned by the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a primary aim of reducing participant anxiety levels (Barrett, 2010). Existing research suggests it is an effective intervention in reducing participant anxiety levels (Briesch, Hagermoser Sanetti and Briesch, 2010) and it has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (2004) as the only evidence based program effective in reducing anxiety as a universal and targeted intervention. In recent years an evidence base for the application of CBT with children with AS has emerged, though primarily this research has been conducted in a clinical setting. Therefore this study aims to contribute to both evidence bases through implementing the FRIENDS for Life program within a new population as well as contributing to the broader evidence base evaluating the effectiveness of CBT with children with AS.

The study adopted a post positivist epistemology and used a single case experimental design (SCED) to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention in reducing the anxiety of four participants, aged nine to eleven, accessing special school provision. Anxiety was measured during a baseline, intervention and follow up phase using two weekly measures: the Paediatric Index of Emotional Distress (PI-ED;O'Connor et al, 2010); a short pupil questionnaire, and a weekly observation of participant behaviour. These measures were also triangulated with pre and post measures of anxiety using the Spence Child Anxiety Scale, child (Spence, 1997) and parent (Spence, 1999) version, and the School Anxiety Scale- Teacher Form (Lyneham, Street, Abbott and Rapee, 2008).

Outcomes from the SCED showed that for all four pupils there was a significant decrease in anxiety from baseline to follow up on at least one weekly measure of anxiety, indicating a delayed effect on anxiety. The parent, child and teacher report triangulation measures suggested there was no significant change in anxiety post intervention.

When considering outcomes, several key limitations to the study's design and implementation were taken into account including threats to construct validity and missing data in the intervention phase for two participants.

The study concludes with support for the positive impact on participant anxiety as a result of the FRIENDS for Life intervention and recommendations are made for further investigation of the use of CBT interventions in schools with an AS population.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Gulliford, A.
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC 321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 14520
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2014 08:58
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 20:26

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