Temperament and family environment in the development of anxiety disorder: Two-year follow-up

Jennifer Hudson, Helen Dodd, Heidi Lyneham, Nataly Bovopoulous

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Objective: Behavioural inhibition (BI) in early childhood is associated with increased risk for anxiety. The present research examines BI alongside family environment factors, specifically maternal negativity and overinvolvement, maternal anxiety and mother-child attachment, with a view to providing a broader understanding of the development of child anxiety.
Method: Participants were 202 children classified at age 4 as either behaviourally inhibited (N=102) or uninhibited (N=100). Family environment, BI and child anxiety were assessed at baseline and child anxiety and BI were assessed again two-years later when participants were aged 6 years.
Results: After controlling for baseline anxiety, inhibited participants were significantly more likely to meet criteria for a diagnosis of social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder at follow-up. Path analysis suggested that maternal anxiety significantly affected child anxiety over time, even after controlling for the effects of BI and baseline anxiety. No significant paths from parenting or attachment to child anxiety were found. Maternal overinvolvement was significantly associated with BI at follow-up.
Conclusions: At age 4, BI, maternal anxiety and child anxiety represent risk factors for anxiety at age 6. Furthermore, overinvolved parenting increases risk for BI at age 6, which may then lead to the development of anxiety in later childhood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1255–1264.e1
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

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