The familial transmission of anxiety: a test of the cognitive model

Ms Yen Fern Chaw (2009). The familial transmission of anxiety: a test of the cognitive model Professional Doctorate, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Ms Yen Fern Chaw
Thesis Title The familial transmission of anxiety: a test of the cognitive model
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Professor Tian P.S. Oei
Total pages 274
Abstract/Summary Studies in the existing literature have consistently demonstrated the aggregation of anxiety in families, and suggested that cognitive factors are important in the etiology and maintenance of anxiety. However, few studies have investigated the role of cognitive factors/mechanisms in the familial transmission of anxiety. Limited research on the cognitive measures and models of anxiety has also been conducted in the Asian context. This thesis seeks to address the existing gaps in the literature by investigating the role of cognitive factors in the psychopathology and familial transmission of anxiety in a Singapore/Asian sample. Chapter one provides a review of the literature on the familial aggregation of anxiety and research that has evaluated the contributions of genetics, environmental factors (with a particular focus on parenting factors), and cognitive factors in the transmission of anxiety from parents to offsprings. Chapters two, three and four comprised of studies that examined the psychometric properties of three anxiety cognitive measures (i.e. Anxiety Control Questionnaire (ACQ), Anxious Self-Statements Questionnaire (ASSQ), and Anxiety Attitude and Belief Scale (AABS)) in the Singapore/Asian context. Exploratory factor analyses and confirmatory factor analyses conducted with the ACQ and ASSQ demonstrated revised factor structures of the two measures, which were thus named as the ACQ-A and ASSQ-A. The ACQ-A comprised of two factors, namely Threat Control and Emotion Control, while the ASSQ-A comprised of three factors, namely Self-Doubt, Inability to Maintain Coping, and Negative Thinking/Worry. As for the AABS, exploratory factor analysis also showed a revised three-factor solution comprising of Catastrophising, Vigilance/Avoidance, and Reasonable Anxiety-Related Beliefs. The three validation studies also found satisfactory internal consistency for all the total scales and the factor scales of the three measures. Concurrent and discriminant validities of all three scales were also demonstrated, hence suggesting that the ACQ-A, ASSQ-A and the AABS-A were valid and reliable instruments for assessing anxiety control, anxious self-statements and anxiety attitudes/beliefs amongst Asian, in particular Singapore, community samples. Chapter five comprised of a study aimed to test the cognitive model of anxiety in the Singapore/Asian context. Five models that investigated the possible influence of anxiety cognitions (i.e. danger-relevant beliefs, anxiety control and anxious self-statements) on anxiety symptoms were tested. Structural equation modeling revealed that danger-relevant beliefs and anxiety control, when considered separately, have indirect influences on anxiety symptoms through anxious self-statements serving as a cognitive mediator. The model which provided the best fit involved a composite construct of anxiety beliefs comprising of both danger-relevant beliefs and anxiety control, which influenced anxiety symptoms directly, as well as indirectly via anxious self-statements. The results supported existing cognitive theories of anxiety, and thus hold implications for the prevention and treatment of anxiety problems among adults in the Asian context. Chapter six investigated the cognitive mechanism of familial transmission of anxiety in a community sample of adult offsprings and one of their parents. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to compare six transmission models of anxiety cognitions and symptoms from parents to offsprings. Results revealed that parent danger-relevant beliefs had a significant influence on offspring danger-relevant beliefs, while parent anxious self-statements also had a significant influence on offspring anxious self-statements. However, there were no significant influences of parent anxiety control on offspring anxiety control, and parent anxiety symptoms on offspring anxiety symptoms. The model, which provided the best fit involved anxiety transmission via anxious self-statements, as well as a composite construct of anxiety beliefs comprising of both danger-relevant beliefs and anxiety control. The results supported the cognitive mechanism of anxiety transmission from parents to offsprings, and thus hold implications for the prevention and treatment of anxiety problems in the Asian context. The final chapter sought to consolidate the findings of all the studies conducted. Theoretical and clinical implications, as well as limitations and directions for future research were also discussed.
Keyword anxiety, familial, transmission, cognition, self-statements, control, beliefs, attitudes, Asia

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Created: Mon, 13 Jul 2009, 16:37:05 EST by Ms Yen Chaw