Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Clinical Psychology

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Anxiety disorders are largely accepted as the most prevalent class of psychiatric disorders experienced by pediatric populations. In addition, receiving an anxiety disorder diagnosis in childhood or adolescence is associated with a variety of negative outcomes. Despite the prevalence and detrimental outcomes associated with pediatric anxiety, little is known about the factors and mechanisms that influence the development and trajectory of pediatric anxiety. Anxiety researchers generally agree that parenting factors play an important role in the development and maintenance of pediatric anxiety, though the nature of the relationship remains unclear. In more recent research, anxiety sensitivity has emerged as an important cognitive predictor of anxiety problems and parenting factors may pose a particular vulnerability to the development of anxiety sensitivity and subsequently, anxiety. The current study hypothesized 1) the relationship between parental control and pediatric anxiety would be mediated by pediatric anxiety sensitivity and 2) the relationship between parental psychopathology (i.e., somatization) and pediatric anxiety would be mediated by pediatric anxiety sensitivity. Hypotheses were tested with two separate simple mediation models. Ninety-four children (84% Caucasian) between 5 and 16 years of age and their mothers participated in this study. Findings revealed that pediatric anxiety sensitivity atemporally mediated the relationship between parental somatization psychopathology and pediatric anxiety. However, unexpectedly the current study revealed that pediatric anxiety sensitivity did not mediate the relationship between parental control and pediatric anxiety. Although future investigations may help to establish causality, the current results support the idea that having an elevated “fear of anxiety” may be an important risk factor in the pathway through which parenting influences the development and maintenance of pediatric anxiety.

Date

7-6-2020

Committee Chair

Davis III, Thompson

Available for download on Friday, June 25, 2027

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