Family factors in the aetiology and maintenance of childhood anxiety: Attachment, family functioning, rearing, and parental cognitive biases.

S.M. Bögels, M. Brechman-Toussaint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Family studies have found a large overlap between anxiety disorders in family members. In addition to genetic heritability, a range of family factors may also be involved in the intergenerational transmission of anxiety. Evidence for a relationship between family factors and childhood as well as parental anxiety is reviewed. Four groups of family variables are considered: (I) attachment; (II), aspects of family functioning, such as marital conflict, co-parenting, functioning of the family as a whole, and sibling relationships; (III) parental rearing strategies; and (IV) beliefs that parents hold about their child. The reviewed literature provides evidence for an association between each of these family factors and child anxiety. However, there is little evidence as yet that identified family factors are specific to child anxiety, rather than to child psychopathology in general. Moreover, evidence for a relationship between child anxiety and family factors is predominantly cross-sectional. Therefore, whether the identified family factors cause childhood anxiety still needs to be investigated. Further research that investigates mechanisms mediating the relationship between family factors and child anxiety is also called for. Finally, parental beliefs are identified as important predictors of parental behaviour that have largely not been investigated in relation to child anxiety disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)834-856
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Volume26
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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