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Title: Communication and confiding in mothers (and others) : relationships with anxiety and somatic symptoms among children aged seven to eleven
Author: Gibb, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 0705
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Problems in family interaction have long been identified as risk factors for child anxiety disorders. Communication and confiding, more specifically, appear relevant to both anxiety and somatisation. There is a substantial literature linking parent-child communication to healthy development, for example regarding language and regulation of emotion. Conversely, there is evidence, chiefly from work among adolescents and adults, that secrecy or inhibited disclosure is associated with adverse physical and psychological outcomes. It appears plausible that, among preadolescents, too, expression of feelings may alleviate anxiety, while inhibited communication may exacerbate stress and somatic symptoms. As few studies have explored these relationships in community samples, the present study set out to do so, under the aegis of a larger piece of research among 7-11 year olds. The two-stage study involved administration of questionnaires to 2566 children and 1368 parents, followed by interviews with a subsample of primary caregivers and children in 145 families. Based on a review of the literature, it was hypothesised that levels of child communication would be associated with anxiety and somatic symptoms, after taking into account other relevant child and family factors, but that the strength of these relationships would vary by gender, and the aspect of communication in question. A new scale, suitable for 7-11 year olds, was developed in order to measure different aspects of communication. As anticipated, aspects of communication were associated with anxiety and somatic symptoms, and contributed to explaining variance in somatic symptoms for both sexes, even after controlling for anxiety and other relevant factors, including parental control and child depressive symptoms. In line with hypotheses, inhibition was more strongly associated with symptoms than was open communication, as was perceived caregiver responsiveness. Girls reported higher levels of communication than boys, but also slightly higher levels of inhibition, which was a stronger predictor of anxiety for girls than boys. These results are discussed in the context of previous studies, and in terms of their implications for practice. Limitations of the study are discussed and suggestions made for future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available