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Parent-reported predictors of adolescent panic attacks.

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1
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, USA. hayward@stanford.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To identify parent-reported risk factors for adolescent panic attacks.

METHOD:

Structured diagnostic interviews were obtained from 770 parents of participants in a school-based risk factor study for adolescent panic. Parent-reported risk factors assessed included characteristics of the child (negative affect, separation anxiety disorder [SAD], childhood chronic illness, and childhood loss) as well as characteristics of the parent (parental panic disorder or agoraphobia [PDA], parental major depression, and parental chronic illness).

RESULTS:

Bivariate predictors of adolescent panic attacks included parent history of PDA, parent history of chronic illness, child negative affect, and child SAD. Using signal detection methods, three subgroups of participants at risk for panic attacks were identified. Fifty-eight percent of adolescents with panic attacks belonged to one of these high-risk groups. Adolescents with a positive parental history of PDA were at highest risk: 24% of this group experienced panic attacks. Among those without a positive parental history of PDA, those with high childhood negative affect or history of SAD were at increased risk for panic attacks (14% and 20%, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS:

The use of parent-reported data provides cross-validation for previously identified risk factors of adolescent panic attacks. Signal detection results suggest there are multiple paths (equifinality) to the development of adolescent panic attacks.

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