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Is anxiety associated with negative interpretations of ambiguity in children and adolescents? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Stuijfzand, S., Creswell, C., Field, A., Pearcey, S. and Dodd, H. (2018) Is anxiety associated with negative interpretations of ambiguity in children and adolescents? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 59 (11). pp. 1127-1142. ISSN 0021-9630

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12822

Abstract/Summary

Background The tendency to interpret ambiguity as threat (‘negative interpretation’) has been implicated in cognitive models of anxiety. A significant body of research has examined the association between anxiety and negative interpretation, and reviews suggest there is a robust positive association in adults. However, evidence with children and adolescents has been inconsistent. This study aimed to provide a systematic quantitative assessment of the association between anxiety and negative interpretation in children and adolescents. Methods Following systematic searches and screening for eligibility, 345 effects sizes from 77 studies were meta-analysed. Results Overall a medium positive association was found between anxiety and negative interpretation in children and adolescents (d ̂ = 0.62). Two variables significantly moderated this effect. Specifically, the association increased in strength with increasing age and when the content of ambiguous scenarios matched the anxiety subtype under investigation. Conclusions Results extend findings from adult literature by demonstrating an association in children and adolescents with evidence for content specificity in the association. Age effects imply a role for development. Results raise considerations for when and for whom clinical treatments for anxiety focusing on interpretation bias are appropriate.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:72305
Publisher:Wiley

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