College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Psychosocial Correlates of Childhood Anxiety Disorders

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1994

Keywords

Anxiety Disorders, Child Behavior, Phobic Disorders, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Psychological Tests, Self Concept, Sex Factors

Publication Title

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Volume

33

Issue/No.

7

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study explored psychosocial and "environmental" correlates of childhood anxiety disorders. The study examined relationships among parental psychiatric symptomatology, perceived family environment, temperament, and self-competence in children with a DSM-III-R anxiety disorder.

METHOD:

A community sample of third through sixth graders was screened initially for symptoms of test anxiety. Those with high and low scores were administered the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for Children. Three groups (childhood anxiety disorder, test-anxious only, and normal controls) were identified and compared on the psychosocial variables.

RESULTS:

Children with an anxiety disorder had greater impairment on the indices of perceived self-competence and temperamental flexibility than controls, with the test-anxious children showing intermediate, yet significant, levels of disturbance. There was a trend for children with an anxiety disorder to describe their families as less promoting of independence than the other groups. Finally, measures of parental psychiatric symptomatology revealed more obsessive-compulsive symptoms for the fathers of both the anxiety disorder and test-anxious children compared with controls.

CONCLUSIONS:

Results are consistent with previous findings suggesting the familial transmission of anxiety disorders and recent speculations regarding a relationship between behavioral inhibition, environmental control, and anxiety. Further research may isolate psychosocial and family environmental factors as instrumental treatment targets in the management of childhood anxiety disorders.

DOI

10.1097/00004583-199409000-00007