A theoretical model of continuity in anxiety and links to academic achievement in disaster-exposed school children

Dev Psychopathol. 2013 Aug;25(3):729-37. doi: 10.1017/S0954579413000138.


This study tested a theoretical model of continuity in anxious emotion and its links to academic achievement in disaster-exposed youth. An urban school based sample of youths (n = 191; Grades 4-8) exposed to Hurricane Katrina were assessed at 24 months (Time 1) and then again at 30 months (Time 2) postdisaster. Academic achievement was assessed through end of the school year standardized test scores (~31 months after Katrina). The results suggest that the association of traumatic stress to academic achievement was indirect via linkages from earlier (Time 1) posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms that predicted later (Time 2) test anxiety. Time 2 test anxiety was then negatively associated with academic achievement. Age and gender invariance testing suggested strong consistency across gender and minor developmental variation in the age range examined. The model presented advances the developmental understanding of the expression of anxious emotion and its links to student achievement among disaster-exposed urban school children. The findings highlight the importance of identifying heterotypic continuity in anxiety and suggest potential applied and policy directions for disaster-exposed youth. Avenues for future theoretical refinement are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cyclonic Storms
  • Disasters
  • Educational Status
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • New Orleans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Schools
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Students / psychology*