Youthful anxiety and perceptions of family environment

Chris O'Brien Palinski (1997)

This study was designed to supplement scant available data concerning psychosocial correlates of youthful anxiety, from a standpoint of familial etiology. A review of the history, classification, epidemiology, assessment and etiology of youthful anxiety introduced the problem. An archival sample of children and adolescents, average age 13.8 years, with principal anxiety disorder diagnoses was collected at the Center for Stress and Anxiety Disorders, an outpatient specialty clinic associated with the State University of New York at Albany. Measures included the Family Environment Scale (FES; Moos & Moos, 1981) and Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCMAS; Reynolds & Richmond, 1978). DSM-III-R diagnoses were derived from the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for Children (ADIS; Silverman & Nelles, 1988). The study investigated the relationship(s) of trait anxiety (RCMAS total score), clinical severity (0 to 8 ADIS scale), diagnostic comorbidity, and perceived family environmental factors, reported in organization, control, conflict and independence subscales of the FES. Relationship(s) were studied variably across anxiety disorder subjects, their parents and normal controls. The presence of a large cohort of social phobia primary diagnoses (37.5% of the total sample) prompted concern with validity issues (RCMAS lie scale). Controlling for effects of subjects' self-presentational issues, the relationship between perceived family control and trait anxiety was moderately significant. The correlation between perceived family conflict and clinical severity also approached significance. Findings for this study were generally consistent with the limited research literature, though parent and child reports were uncharacteristically congruent in the present study.