The structure of specific phobia symptoms among children and adolescents
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Previous research [Frederikson, M., Annas, P., Fisher, H. and Wik, G. (1996). Gender and age differences in the prevalence of specific fears and phobias. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 34, 33–39.] has shown that specific phobia symptoms of adults cluster into three subtypes: animal phobia, blood-injection-injury phobia and environmental–situational phobia. The present study examined whether these specific phobia subtypes can also be found in children. 996 children aged between 7 and 19 years completed a brief questionnaire regarding the frequency with which they experienced specific phobia symptoms. Confirmatory factor analysis was employed to examine the structure of these data. Results showed that childhood specific phobia symptoms indeed cluster into the three subtypes as described by Frederikson et al. and that these subtypes are either intercorrelated or the product of a single higher order factor. This structure appeared to be largely invariant across genders and age groups.