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Title: The role of mother-child co-constructed narratives in the development and treatment of childhood anxiety disorders
Author: Percy, Ray
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 5207
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2011
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Anxiety is a common disorder of childhood, and without treatment it is likely to persist and lead to further difficulties. Evidence from research with anxious and healthy samples suggests that mother- child co-constructed narratives may be a mechanism through which anxious cognitions (e.g. overestimation of threat, vulnerability, and avoidance) are transmitted from mother to child, promoting anxiety disorder development and militating against positive treatment outcomes. This process may be exacerbated in the presence of maternal anxiety. Within the context of two randomised controlled trials comparing the effectiveness of different treatments for childhood anxiety disorders, this study examined the relationship between both maternal and child anxiety and specific features of maternal discourse style, and the relation between maternal discourse style and outcome of child cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT) for anxiety. Participants were 120 children (aged 7-12 years) and their mothers, allocated to one of three groups based on maternal and child anxiety status: i) anxious mother plus anxious child; ii) non- anxious mother plus anxious child; iii) non-anxious mother plus non-anxious child. Anxious children received CCBT for their anxiety. Maternal and child anxiety status was established by clinical interview; and maternal discourse style was assessed using a purpose-built coding scheme. Results showed that anxious mothers of anxious children promote child anxiety by talking excessively about threat during mother-child conversations about anxious experiences. In the absence of maternal anxiety, an excessive avoidance of talk about threat was associated with child anxiety. Results also showed that mothers of anxious children, irrespective of their own anxiety status, promote child anxiety by endorsing avoidant plans of action. As regards maternal discourse style and response to treatment, in the presence of maternal anxiety, excessive talk about threat was associated with poorer treatment outcome; and, in contrast, irrespective of maternal anxiety status, increased maternal promotion of reflective evaluation of negative thoughts and feelings was associated with better treatment outcome. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available