Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor's Name

Wendy K. Silverman

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

William Kurtines

Third Advisor's Name

Maureen C. Kenny

Fourth Advisor's Name

Jeremy Pettit

Keywords

Child Anxiety, Functional Impairment, Treatment, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Mediation

Date of Defense

11-8-2011

Abstract

Despite a considerable progress in developing and testing psychosocial treatments to reduce youth anxiety disorders, much remains to learn about the relation between anxiety symptom reduction and change in youth functional impairment. The specific aims of this dissertation thus were to examine: (1) the relation between different levels of anxiety and youth functional impairment ratings; (2) incremental validity of the Children Global Assessment Scale (CGAS); (3) the mediating role of anxiety symptom reduction on youth functional impairment ratings; (4) the directionality of change between anxiety symptom reduction and youth functional impairment; (5) the moderating effects of youth age, sex, and ethnicity on the mediated relation between youth anxiety symptom reduction and change in functional impairment; and (6) an agreement (or lack thereof) between youths and their parents in their views of change in youth functional impairment vis-à-vis anxiety symptom reduction.

The results were analyzed using archival data set acquired from 183 youths and their mothers. Research questions were tested using SPSS and structural equation modeling techniques in Mplus.

The results supported the efficacy of psychosocial treatments to reduce the severity of youth anxiety symptoms and its associated functional impairment. Moreover, the results revealed that at posttreatment, youths who scored either low or medium on anxiety levels scored significantly lower on impairment, than youths who scored high on anxiety levels. Incremental validity of the CGAS was also revealed across all assessment points and informants in my sample. In addition, the results indicated the mediating role of anxiety symptom reduction with respect to change in youth functional impairment at posttest, regardless of the youth’s age, sex, and ethnicity. No significant findings were observed with regard to the bidirectionality and an informant disagreement vis-à-vis the relation between anxiety symptom reduction and change in functional impairment.

The study’s main contributions and potential implications on theoretical, empirical, and clinical levels are further discussed. The emphasis is on the need to enhance existing evidence-based treatments and develop innovative treatment models that will not only reduce youth’s symptoms (such anxiety) but also evoke genuine and palpable improvements in lives of youths and their families.

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