Testing a model of family factors that influence youth anxiety
MetadataShow full item record
Anxiety is one of the most prevalent childhood mental disorders and is linked to negative psychological and social outcomes. It is important to understand the factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of youth anxiety in order to inform treatment. Although individual factors, such as coping strategies, have been associated with anxious youth, family and societal factors are also influential in childhood anxiety. Parent psychopathology, aspects of family dysfunction, and family accommodation of anxiety have been implicated in elevated youth anxiety. The primary purpose of this study was to expand previous research and test the extent to which family factors influence youth anxiety. Using latent variable structural equation modeling, this study examined how caregiver anxiety, family functioning, and family accommodation directly and indirectly affect anxiety levels. To meet the objectives of the current study, the sample included 7- to 17- year old youth and came from two sources, representing a range of clinical and non-clinical levels: an ongoing anxiety intervention study with youth diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and a community sample. A secondary purpose of this study was to initiate an exploratory analysis of a more complex model of youth anxiety that includes youth active and avoidant coping strategies. The aim of this analysis was to investigate whether youth coping style (avoidant or active) may be a mediating factor between family factors and youth anxiety levels. Results found evidence for family factors that influence youth anxiety, with particularly significant findings on the important influences of family accommodation on both youth avoidant coping and youth anxiety. Furthermore, caregiver anxiety also had significant direct influences on family dysfunction and family accommodation. While not significantly directly associated with youth anxiety, caregiver anxiety had significant total effects on youth anxiety through the combination of its direct and indirect influences via family accommodation and to a lesser degree, family dysfunction. Family accommodation also mediated the influence of caregiver anxiety on youth anxiety. Implications, limitations, and areas for further research are discussed.