Are reported differences in life events for anxious children and controls due to comorbid disorders?

J Anxiety Disord. 2009 May;23(4):511-8. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.10.005. Epub 2008 Oct 28.


Many studies have reported that anxious children experience more negative life events than controls. However, studies have not yet addressed the possibility that this difference may be due to comorbidity with non-anxiety disorders. Furthermore, presence of psychopathology may also lead children to act in ways that increases frequency of negative life events and decreases the frequency of positive life events. Mother and child-report versions of a questionnaire measure of life events (CASE) assessed life events in the past 12 months in anxiety-disordered children (n=198), and controls (n=88). Mother reports indicated that anxious children experienced more negative and fewer positive behavior-dependent events than control children. Child reports showed a similar pattern, however significant differences were only present between anxious and control groups on the number of negative behavior-dependent events. Results indicated that anxious-control differences remain irrespective of comorbidity with non-anxiety disorders. However, the highest rates of negative life events were present in children with a comorbid disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires