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Precursors and correlates of anxiety trajectories from late childhood to late adolescence
journal contributionposted on 01.07.2012, 00:00 authored by Primrose LetcherPrimrose Letcher, A Sanson, D Smart, John ToumbourouJohn Toumbourou
The present research employed a prospective, multi-informant design to examine precursors and correlates of differing anxiety profiles from late childhood to late adolescence. The sample consisted of 626 boys and 667 girls who are participants in the Australian Temperament Project, a large, longitudinal, community-based study that has followed young people's psychosocial adjustment from infancy to adulthood. The present research analyzes data collected from the first 12 waves of data, from 4–8 months to 17 years. Parents, primary school teachers, maternal and child health nurses, and from the age of 11 onward, the young people themselves have provided survey data. Trajectory analyses revealed three distinct patterns of self-reported anxiety from late childhood to late adolescence, comprising low, moderate, and high (increasing) trajectories, which differed somewhat between boys and girls. A range of parent- and teacher-reported factors was found to be associated with these trajectories, including temperament style, behavior problems, social skills, parenting, negative family events, and peer relationships. Compared with male trajectories, female trajectories were associated with a greater variety of psychosocial variables (including parenting and externalizing problems), which may partially account for the higher prevalence of anxiety in adolescent girls compared with boys. Findings shed light on gender-specific pathways to anxiety and the need for comprehensive, integrative approaches to intervention and prevention programs.