Development and validation of the cognitive vulnerability schemas questionnaire for anxious youth
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According to cognitive theories of anxiety, anxiogenic schemata are a set of beliefs, rules, and assumptions that influence how those with anxiety make inferences and interpret threat. It is hypothesized that each anxiety disorder has a unique anxiogenic schema. This report describes the development of the Cognitive Vulnerability Schemas Questionnaire for Anxious Youth, an instrument used to measure anxiogenic schemata in youth aged 7-17 years old. Factor analyses of the scale demonstrated two empirically distinct and relatively stable dimensions of anxiogenic schema. The two identified factors of anxiogenic schema were: (1) Generalized Anxiety and Social Phobia Schema, and (2) Separation Anxiety Schema. The measure demonstrated good psychometric properties on a range of indices of reliability and validity. Results indicated that scores on the questionnaire subscales predicted anxiety symptomology. Regression analyses showed that both factors were predictors of anxiety symptomology, however did not predict anxiety diagnosis. Significant differences in the Cognitive Vulnerability Schemas Questionnaire for Anxious Youth subscales were demonstrated between patients with clinically significant Generalized Anxiety Symptoms, Social Phobia Symptoms, and Separation Anxiety Symptoms. The implications of these findings for theories of cognitive vulnerability and schema development in youth are discussed.