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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010 Apr;19(4):395-403. doi: 10.1007/s00787-009-0064-1. Epub 2009 Oct 15.

Stability of childhood anxiety disorder diagnoses: a follow-up naturalistic study in psychiatric care.

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Department of Psychiatry, Fundacion Jimenez Diaz University Hospital, Autonomous University of Madrid, Avenida Reyes Catolicos 2, 28040, Madrid, Spain.


Few studies have examined the stability of major psychiatric disorders in pediatric psychiatric clinical populations. The objective of this study was to examine the long-term stability of anxiety diagnoses starting with pre-school age children through adolescence evaluated at multiple time points. Prospective cohort study was conducted of all children and adolescents receiving psychiatric care at all pediatric psychiatric clinics belonging to two catchment areas in Madrid, Spain, between 1 January, 1992 and 30 April, 2006. Patients were selected from among 24,163 children and adolescents who received psychiatric care. Patients had to have a diagnosis of an ICD-10 anxiety disorder during at least one of the consultations and had to have received psychiatric care for the anxiety disorder. We grouped anxiety disorder diagnoses according to the following categories: phobic disorders, social anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), stress-related disorders, and "other" anxiety disorders which, among others, included generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. Complementary indices of diagnostic stability were calculated. As much as 1,869 subjects were included and had 27,945 psychiatric/psychological consultations. The stability of all ICD-10 anxiety disorder categories studied was high regardless of the measure of diagnostic stability used. Phobic and social anxiety disorders showed the highest diagnostic stability, whereas OCD and "other" anxiety disorders showed the lowest diagnostic stability. No significant sex differences were observed on the diagnostic stability of the anxiety disorder categories studied. Diagnostic stability measures for phobic, social anxiety, and "other" anxiety disorder diagnoses varied depending on the age at first evaluation. In this clinical pediatric outpatient sample it appears that phobic, social anxiety, and stress-related disorder diagnoses in children and adolescents treated in community outpatient services may have high diagnostic stability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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