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Accueil veterinaires comportementalistes Veille bibliographique veterinaires comportementalistes Distinctions between separation anxiety and social anxiety in children and adolescents

Distinctions between separation anxiety and social anxiety in children and adolescents

Robert F. Ferdinand, Ilja L. Bongers, Jan van der Ende, Willemijn van Gastel, Nouchka Tick, Elisabeth Utens and Frank C. Verhulst

Revue : Behaviour Research and Therapy

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Erasmus Medical Center/Sophia Children's Hospital, Dr. Molewaterplein 60/P.O. Box 2060, 3000 CB Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Received 28 July 2005; revised 3 November 2005; accepted 10 November 2005. Available online 17 January 2006.


Separation anxiety and social phobia are intertwined to a considerable degree, and high comorbidity rates have been reported. The present study used latent class analysis (LCA) to investigate if classes of children and adolescents with?simultaneously?high rates of separation anxiety and low rates of social anxiety symptoms, or vice versa, could be identified. Eight- to 18-year-olds from a large general population (n=1000) and referred sample (n=735) were assessed with the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC). With LCA, a separate class of referred 8?11-year-old children with high separation anxiety scores, and simultaneously lower social anxiety scores was identified, next to a class of children with high scores on separation anxiety and social anxiety. In the other groups (referred 12?18-year-olds and children and adolescents from the general population), a class with individuals who specifically scored high on separation anxiety could not be revealed. The results indicated that separation anxiety represents a different construct than social anxiety in referred children (but not in referred adolescents or in the general population). It can be concluded that, in referred children, research regarding etiology and treatment outcome of anxiety symptoms should be aimed specifically at separation anxiety and social anxiety, instead of just investigating a broader anxiety dimension.

Keywords: Children; Adolescents; Anxiety; Taxonomy; MASC

Corresponding author. Tel.: +31 10 4636671; fax: +31 10 4636803.

Behaviour Research and Therapy Vol 44, Issue 11, Pages 1523-1535

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