Family factors associated with anxiety in children : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
The present study investigated the impact of the family environment to emotional and behavioural problems in children's lives. Various hypotheses were related to how the family environment differs for internalising and externalising problems in children, and in turn how the family environment related to the specific emotional disturbances of anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder in children. Also, the role of the family environment as a moderator in the relationship between anxiety and depression. A number of hypotheses related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) were not able to be investigated in the present study due to small sample size. Included in these hypotheses were Rapoport's (1989) theorised developmental pathway of ritualisation in children and Kashani et al.'s (1992) theorised three subgroups of obsessive compulsive disorder. In addition, DSM-IV's theorised distinction between children that have, or do not have, insight into their obsessive-compulsive symptomatology. However, the hypothesis regarding the relationship obsessive-compulsive problems had with internalising and externalising problems were assessed in the present study. Other hypotheses included the relationship children experiencing anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive problems had to children's coping strategies. Coping strategies then, were also investigated in regard to their relationship with the family environment. Finally, significant life events were evaluated in terms of their relationship with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, while another hypotheses were related to coping strategies as a moderater in the relationship between anxiety and depression. The sample consisted of seventy-two children and forty-nine parents, using a multitrait, multimethod battery of measures. Correlational analyses, including the use of multiple regression, indicated that the family environment was indeed related to internalising and externalising problems, as well as anxiety, depression and OCD in children. The family environment also moderated the relationship between anxiety and depression. In addition, findings indicated that OCD predicted externalising problems while anxiety predicted both internalising and externalising problems. The family environment was also found to relate to children's coping strategies, as was anxiety and OCD. Finally, anxiety and OCD were indicated to relate to significant life events. These results are discussed in terms of other research literature, their implications for treatment and future research.
Anxiety in children, Child behaviour, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)