Screening for childhood anxiety: A meta-analysis of the screen for child anxiety related emotional disorders

Katie Runyon, Steven R. Chesnut, Hansel Burley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: The Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED) is a commonly used instrument that evaluates anxiety symptoms in children and adolescents. Methods: This meta-analysis examined the psychometric properties of the SCARED instrument, including total instrument and subscale internal reliabilities for the parent and child versions, test-retest reliabilities, and the extent to which responses from the parent version correspond with responses from the child version. Databases reviewed included ERIC, PubMed, PsycINFO, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, and Google Scholar Results: Responses to the SCARED instrument for children and parents using a mixture of the 38-, 41-, 66-, 69-, and 71-item versions of the SCARED were analyzed for 65 studies conducted between 1997 and 2017. The results from the random-effects models suggested homogeneity of variance for all the effects examined. The weighted averages of the psychometric properties indicated the parent and child versions of the SCARED have exhibited excellent internal consistencies on the total score, panic disorder, generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and animal phobia subscales. Furthermore, the SCARED demonstrated moderate to large test-retest reliabilities and moderate to large parent-child agreement rates. The school avoidance, obsessive-compulsive disorder, blood phobia, and situational phobia subscales did not demonstrate reliabilities considered appropriate for a screening instrument. Limitations: Publications that could not be translated to English or could not be retrieved due to not being published or archived were not included in the analysis. Conclusions: Overall the child and parent versions of the SCARED have robust psychometric properties and perform consistently well in community and clinical settings across various countries. The SCARED is clinically relevant as mental health providers and researchers can use it during diagnostic procedures and to monitor intervention effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-229
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Anxiety
  • Children
  • Meta-analysis
  • Psychometric properties
  • Screen for child anxiety related emotional disorders


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