Patterns and predictors of subjective units of distress in anxious youth

Courtney L. Benjamin, Kelly A. O'Neil, Sarah A. Crawley, Rinad S. Beidas, Meredith Coles, Philip C. Kendall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) ratings are commonly used during exposure tasks in cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) for anxiety. Aims: The present study examined patterns and predictors of SUDS in a sample of anxiety-disordered youth. Method: Youth (N = 99) aged 7 to 14 (M = 10.4, SD = 1.8) were treated with CBT for social phobia (SP), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and/or separation anxiety disorder (SAD). Analyses were conducted using hierarchical linear modeling. Results: Child's peak SUDS and magnitude of change in SUDS significantly increased between sessions. Higher child self-reported pretreatment total Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC) score predicted greater change in SUDS within the first exposure session. Primary GAD diagnosis predicted less increase in change in SUDS between sessions. Conclusions: Results suggest that higher pretreatment total MASC scores are associated with increased first exposure within-session habituation. Additionally, youth with a principal diagnosis of GAD experienced less between-session habituation, perhaps because they may have required more imaginal than in-vivo exposures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-504
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • CBT
  • Subjective units of distress
  • anxiety disorders
  • childhood anxiety
  • cognitive behavioral therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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