Original Research

Cognitive behaviour therapy-based early intervention and prevention programme for anxiety in South African children with visual impairments

Lisa Visagie, Helene Loxton, Leslie Swartz, Paul Stallard
African Journal of Disability | Vol 10 | a796 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v10i0.796 | © 2021 Lisa Visagie, Helene Loxton, Leslie Swartz, Paul Stallard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 August 2020 | Published: 29 January 2021

About the author(s)

Lisa Visagie, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Helene Loxton, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Leslie Swartz, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Paul Stallard, Department for Health, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, United Kingdom


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Abstract

Background: Anxiety is the most common psychological difficulty reported by youth worldwide and may also be a significant problem for children with visual impairments. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) interventions have proven to be successful in treating childhood anxiety; however, mostly these are not suitable for children with visual impairments, as the materials used are not sufficiently accessible to this population.

Objectives: The present study was motivated by the dearth of research on this topic and aimed to examine the effects of a specifically tailored, group-based, universally delivered, CBT intervention for anxiety in children with visual impairments and to examine the influence of three predictor variables (i.e. age, gender and level of visual impairment) on prevention effects.

Method: A randomised wait-list control group design with pre-, post- and follow-up intervention measures was employed. The final sample of 52 children (aged 9–14) with varying degrees of visual impairment received the anxiety intervention. Participants were followed over a course of 10 months during which their anxiety symptoms were assessed quantitatively at four time points (T1–T4).

Results: The results indicated that the anxiety intervention did not significantly decrease symptoms of anxiety within the intervention groups. However, the intervention appeared beneficial for girls, younger children and legally blind participants.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated how CBT interventions can be adapted for use in children with visual impairments. Results obtained provide a foundation upon which future updated anxiety intervention programmes can be built, meeting the need for further research in this area.


Keywords

anxiety; prevention; cognitive behaviour therapy; visual impairment; South Africa; children; schools-based interventions; efficacy

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