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01-01-2013 | Uitgave 1/2013

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 1/2013

The Course of Childhood Anxiety Symptoms: Developmental Trajectories and Child-Related Factors in Normal Children

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 1/2013
Suzanne Broeren, Peter Muris, Sofia Diamantopoulou, Jess R. Baker


This three-wave longitudinal study explored developmental trajectories for various types of childhood anxiety symptoms (i.e., specific fears, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and separation anxiety) and examined how these trajectories were associated with several factors thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of anxiety. Parents of a community sample of 224 children aged 4 to 11 years repeatedly completed a standardized questionnaire of anxiety symptoms during a 2-year period. At Time 1, parents also filled out scales for measuring children’s level of behavioral inhibition (BI), internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and prosocial behaviors, while an interview was conducted with children to assess Theory-of-Mind (TOM) ability. Growth Mixture Modeling identified multiple developmental trajectories in childhood anxiety symptoms of which the ‘stable-low’ or ‘stable-medium’ reflected the normative trajectories. Further, multinomial regression analyses indicated that the higher developmental trajectories of anxiety were associated with higher levels of BI and internalizing symptoms at Time 1. In sum, results show heterogeneity in the development of anxiety symptoms and underline the importance of early prevention programs for children at high risk for developing an anxiety disorder.

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