Parental internalizing symptoms as predictors of anxiety symptoms in clinic-referred children
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology. 2020, 8, 18-24 10.21307/sjcapp-2020-003
Background: Mothers’ and fathers’ internalizing symptoms may influence children’s anxiety symptoms differently. Objective: To explore the relationship between parental internalizing symptoms and children’s anxiety symptoms in a clinical sample of children with anxiety disorders. Method: The sample was recruited through community mental health clinics for a randomized controlled anxiety treatment trial. At pre-intervention, children (n = 182), mothers (n = 165), and fathers (n = 72) reported children’s anxiety symptoms. Mothers and fathers also reported their own internalizing symptoms. The children were aged 8 to 15 years (Mage = 11.5 years, SD = 2.1, 52.2% girls) and all had a diagnosis of separation anxiety, social phobia, and/or generalized anxiety disorder. We examined parental internalizing symptoms as predictors of child anxiety symptoms in multiple regression models. Results: Both mother and father rated internalizing symptoms predicted children’s self-rated anxiety levels (adj. R2 = 22.0%). Mother-rated internalizing symptoms predicted mother-rated anxiety symptoms in children (adj. R2 = 7.0%). Father-rated internalizing symptoms did not predict father-rated anxiety in children. Conclusions: Clinicians should incorporate parental level of internalizing symptoms in their case conceptualizations.