Parent-dependent stressors and the onset of anxiety disorders in children: links with parental psychopathology

Jennifer L. Allen, Seija Sandberg, Celine Y. Chhoa, Tom Fearn, Ronald M. Rapee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Exposure to stressors is associated with an increased risk for child anxiety. Investigating the family origins of stressors may provide promising avenues for identifying and intervening with children at risk for the onset of anxiety disorders and their families. The aim of this study was to compare the frequency of parent-dependent negative life events and chronic adversities experienced by children with an anxiety disorder (n = 34) in the 12 months prior to the onset of the child’s most recent episode, compared to healthy controls (n = 34). Life events and chronic adversities were assessed using maternal report during an investigator-based interview, which provided independent panel ratings of the extent that reported experiences were related to parent behaviour. There were no group differences in the number of parent-dependent negative life events for anxious children compared to controls. However, significantly more parent-dependent chronic adversities were present for anxious children compared to controls. Findings suggest that parents contribute to an increased frequency of chronic adversities but not negative life events prior to their child’s most recent onset of anxiety. Furthermore, increased child exposure to parent-dependent chronic adversities was related to parental history of mental disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-231
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number2
Early online date8 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Child anxiety
  • Chronic adversity
  • Life events
  • Parent psychopathology
  • Stress
  • Stress generation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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