This study aims to identify factors that predict the mental health care referral of anxious children. In total, 249 children and families, aged 8-13 years, participated: 73 children were referred with anxiety disorders to mental health care [mean (M) age = 10.28, standard deviation (SD) = 1.35], 176 non-referred anxious children recruited in primary schools (M age = 9.94, SD = 1.22). Child anxiety and other disorders were assessed with semi-structured interviews. Child anxiety symptoms, behavioural problems, parental anxiety, the parenting styles overprotection, autonomy encouragement, rejection, and the family functioning dimensions control and relational functioning, were assessed with child, father and mother report on questionnaires. The summed interference rating of children's anxiety disorders was a predictor of referral, consistent over child and parent reports, but not comorbidity. Most family and parenting variables did not predict referral, nor differed between the referred and non-referred sample. Contrary to our hypothesis, maternal self-reported anxiety decreased the odds of referral and child reported parental autonomy granting increased, while child reported overprotection decreased the odds of referral. The impairment for the child due to the number and severity of their anxiety disorder(s) is, based on child, mother and father report associated with referral. This indicates that those who need it most, receive clinical treatment.
Keywords: Child anxiety; family functioning; impairment; parenting; service utilization.
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.