Family accommodation mediates the association between anxiety symptoms in mothers and children
Objective: The link between child anxiety and maternal anxiety has been well established but the factors underlying this association are not well understood. One potential factor is family accommodation, which describes ways in which parents change their behaviour to help a child avoid or alleviate anxiety. Family accommodation has been associated with greater symptom severity, more impairment and poorer treatment outcomes in the child. The aim of this study was to investigate whether maternal accommodation mediates the relation between parent and child anxiety.
Method: Mothers of children (N = 85) aged 7–17 years (M = 11.79) completed measures of their own anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)), their child’s anxiety (Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED)), and family accommodation (Family Accommodation Scale Anxiety (FASA)). Structural equation modelling (SEM) was used to test the mediational role of accommodation linking parent and child anxiety.
Results: Family accommodation was found to significantly mediate the link between maternal anxiety and child anxiety.
Conclusion: These results inform theory and imply that the development of interventions designed to target family accommodation may improve the prognosis of those diagnosed with paediatric anxiety disorders and youth with subclinical anxiety symptoms by reducing both parent and child anxiety.