Dr. Michelle Porche Part of BU Research Team Awarded with Grant to Study Child Anxiety Treatments


With more attention and subsequent resources being put toward analyzing and understanding the root causes of anxiety-based disorders, especially those that impact children, one study looks to test a form of therapy, as well as two methods for delivering it, in combating these symptoms.

Clinical Associate Professor in Applied Human Development, Michelle Porche, EdD, will be participating as a Co-Investigator in a collaborative research effort between Boston University and the Boston Medical Center, which will study the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) on children who display signs of anxiety, while using two distinct methods of delivery: face-to-face and online.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has committed roughly $13.5 million to fund the five-year study, with Dr. Lisa Fortuna, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at BU’s School of Medicine and Medical Director for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services for BMC, serving as the project’s Principal Investigator.

Dr. Porche’s role will deal primarily with the qualitative component of the study, focusing on child-patient and family experiences in receiving face-to-face versus online anxiety treatment. BU Psychological and Brain Science’s Associate Professor, Donna Pincus, PhD, is also a PI for the study, which further highlights the mix of mental health, education, and human development professionals assisting in the research. Dr. Jonathan Comer, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Florida International University and affiliate with BU, is a Co-Investigator leading the quantitative data collection and analysis.

As to why this study is uniquely significant, the grant’s project summary page explains that, “Providing these treatments in community pediatrics practices could help even more children, particularly in lower-income and minority families that may not seek care elsewhere. No one has tested whether both in-person and online delivery methods of CBT in primary care pediatrics could work equally well with low-income and minority families, nor whether each of these formats may work better for certain patients or scenarios.”