Perceived family impact of preschool anxiety disorders
Objective We examined the perceived impact of child anxiety disorders on family functioning, because such impact is a key predictor of mental health service receipt. In addition, we examined the relative impact of preschool anxiety compared to that of other early childhood disorders, and whether this impact persisted after accounting for the effects of comorbidity, or varied by child age and sex. Method Drawing from a pediatric primary-care clinic and oversampling for children at risk for anxiety, 917 parents of preschoolers (aged 2-5 years) completed a diagnostic interview and reported on child psychiatric symptom impact on family finances, relationships, activities, and well-being. Results After accounting for comorbid disorders, families of children with anxiety were 3.5 times more likely to report a negative impact of their child's behavior on the family relative to nondisordered children. Generalized and separation anxiety had an impact on family functioning similar to that of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and disruptive disorders. There was a significant family impact for girls with social phobia, whereas there was no impact for boys. Conclusions Preschool anxiety has a significant, unique impact on family functioning, particularly parental adjustment, highlighting the family impairment linked with early anxiety, and the need for further research on barriers to care for these disorders.
Towe-Goodman, NR; Franz, L; Copeland, W; Angold, A; Egger, H
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