Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Michael P. Twohig


Michael P. Twohig


Michael E. Levin


Tyler Renshaw


Sara Boghosian


Karen Muñoz


Health-related anxiety is a growing issue to understand how to treat, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic. Some studies show that a specific type of therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), may be beneficial for health anxiety in adults, but this has not yet been tested with adolescents. The present study is a randomized, waitlist-controlled trial of ACT delivered via Zoom for adolescents struggling with health-related anxiety. A total of 30 adolescents (ages 12-17), plus one caretaker each (N = 60), living in Utah and currently struggling with health-related anxiety were enrolled. The majority of caretakers and adolescents were White, non- Hispanic/Latine, and female. Participants in the treatment condition received ten weekly, 50-minute sessions of ACT delivered via Zoom. Overall, adolescents who received ACT reported small, significant decreases in health-related anxiety as compared to the waitlist. No differences were found between groups for adolescent-rated general anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, or anxiety sensitivity. Caretakers reported decreases in child general anxiety and improvements in parental psychological inflexibility. No significant differences were found between groups for caretaker-rated familial accommodation and accommodation-related child distress. Overall, adolescents and caretakers rated the treatment positively. Future studies should test ACT with more diverse groups of adolescents as well as compare it to other available therapy options. However, this study is the first to examine ACT as a potential treatment for health-related anxiety in adolescents, and thereby adds to the growing literature supporting the use of ACT as a potential treatment option for youth.



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