The relationship between child anxiety, parent anxiety, and family accommodation
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Children and parents suffer from anxiety at high rates, but little is known regarding the role of family accommodation in the relationship between parent anxiety and child anxiety. Family accommodation is the process by which families accommodate patient symptoms by providing reassurance or by modifying family routines to avoid anxiety producing situations, which is in direct opposition to clinical therapeutics, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focus on confronting rather than accommodating symptoms. It is important to identify family variables that are relevant to understanding the role of the parent in their child's anxiety, and family accommodation is promising because it has been implicated in impairment, symptom severity, and poor treatment outcomes in children and adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, less is known about family accommodation and anxiety. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to explore the possibility that family accommodation might mediate the relationship between parent anxiety and child anxiety by using survey methodology to acquire data from 85 parents via community and clinical sampling. Measures included "The Family Accommodation Scale Anxiety," "The State Trait Anxiety Inventory for Adults," and "The Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders." Multiple regression analyses revealed that family accommodation fully mediated the relationship between parent anxiety and child anxiety, as evidenced by a statistically significant Sobel test of mediation and by a reduction in the parent anxiety child anxiety relationship from significant to non-significant. This study fills an important gap in the literature by providing empirical evidence that family accommodation plays an important role in mediating the relationship between parent anxiety and child anxiety. Implications include the potential for development of effective interventions for child anxiety by including focused treatment components designed to reduce and eliminate family accommodation.