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.

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Behaviour Research and Therapy
Pediatric Psychiatry

Ferdinand, R.F, Bongers, I.M.B, van der Ende, J, van Gastel, W, Tick, N.T, Utens, E.M.W.J, & Verhulst, F.C. (2006). Distinctions between separation anxiety and social anxiety in children and adolescents. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(11), 1523–1535. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2005.11.006