This study examined: 1) the relationship between negative parental beliefs about child anxiety (i.e., it is harmful), insecure parental attachment and parental accommodation of child anxiety; 2) whether parental attachment insecurity moderates the effect of negative beliefs about anxiety on parent accommodation; and 3) a path model of parental factors affecting accommodation and child anxiety severity. Participants were 139 parents of children (6–18 years) with a primary anxiety disorder. Parents completed measures of parental accommodation of their child’s anxiety, beliefs about child anxiety, and attachment security. Child anxiety diagnosis and severity was determined using semi-structured clinical interviews. Negative beliefs about child anxiety were directly associated with levels of parental accommodation. There was no direct relationship between insecure attachment and accommodation; however anxious attachment moderated the effect of parental beliefs about anxiety on parental accommodation. Among parents with more secure attachment, negative beliefs about anxiety were associated with greater parental accommodation. However, among parents with less secure attachment, accommodation was high regardless of beliefs about anxiety. A path model suggested that negative beliefs about anxiety was related to increased parental accommodation, which in turn was related to increased child anxiety severity. Psychoeducation about the nature of anxiety is likely to be beneficial in helping to reduce accommodation among parents with more secure attachment styles. However, among those with greater anxious attachment, psychoeducation may need to be tailored to focus on corrective information about the impact of treatment processes on the parent–child relationship.
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The contribution of Valérie La Buissonnière-Ariza at University of South Florida in collecting data is gratefully acknowledged.
This project was funded by a grant from All Children’s Hospital Research Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health (1R61MH115113-01A1; R21MH113946; 3MH103555).
Conflict of Interest
Nicole McBride report no conflicts of interest. Carly Johnco receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Rotary Health and Macquarie University. Eric Storch receives funding from the National Institutes of Health, Red Cross, ReBuild Texas, IOCDF, Greater Houston Community Foundation, and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He is a consultant for Levo Therapeutics. He receives book royalties from Elsevier, Wiley, Springer, Lawrence Erlbaum, Kingsley, and Oxford University Press. He receives honorarium and travel fee for trainings from the IOCDF. Ella Oar receives funding from Australian Rotary Health and Macquarie University. Sophie Schneider receives funding from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Red Cross, and the Misophonia Research Fund. Eli Lebowitz and Wendy Silverman receive funding from National Institute of Mental Health.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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Johnco, C., Storch, E.A., Oar, E. et al. The Role of Parental Beliefs About Anxiety and Attachment on Parental Accommodation of Child Anxiety. Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-020-00722-8
- Family accommodation