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Understanding parents’ experiences of seeking and accessing professional support for anxiety disorders in pre-adolescent children

Reardon, T. (2018) Understanding parents’ experiences of seeking and accessing professional support for anxiety disorders in pre-adolescent children. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders experienced by children and young people, and are associated with significant negative outcomes for individuals and economic burden for broader society. Effective treatments for child anxiety disorders exist, and although there are a lack of current UK data on help-seeking and access to professional support for child anxiety disorders, previous studies have suggested that only a minority of young people with mental health disorders receive treatment. Identifying barriers to seeking and accessing professional support in the context of child anxiety disorders would inform targeted interventions designed to increase rates of treatment access. This thesis adopts a mixed methods approach and aims to improve understanding of parents’ experiences of seeking and accessing professional support for anxiety disorders in pre-adolescent children. Findings identify a substantial unmet need in relation to child anxiety disorders, with approximately one third of parents not seeking professional help, more than 60% of children not receiving any professional support, and less than 3% accessing evidence-based treatment. Barriers to seeking and accessing professional support for child anxiety disorders include barriers related to i) identifying anxiety difficulties in children; ii) help-seeking knowledge and attitudes towards professional support; and iii) availability of evidence-based treatment. The findings have clear implications for ways to minimise barriers in each of these areas and improve access to professional support for child anxiety disorders. The thesis provides preliminary evidence to support the potential for brief identification tools to improve accurate identification of anxiety disorders in children in community settings. Findings also highlight the need for i) interventions to promote public understanding of help-seeking, and positive attitudes towards professional support for child anxiety disorders; and ii) increased provision of evidence-based treatment for child anxiety disorders in school and primary care settings.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Creswell, C. and Harvey, K.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:84882

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