Roughly one-third (31.8%) of adolescents will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder1, with as many as 20% of young children already showing symptoms that will predict problems across their lifetime2,3. Substantial time and effort have resulted in a growing literature on the development of anxiety in childhood. Multiple contextual contributors to risk for anxiety problems have been identified, including parental behaviors15,16, developmental age17, and socioeconomic status18. Parenting behaviors15,19,20, parental control in particular15, and socioeconomic disadvantage18,21,22, predict increased risk for anxiety problems across development and comprise a substantial portion of the available literature evaluating the influence of context on childhood anxiety. Yet, the search continues for precisely how environment-based risk for anxiety unfolds across childhood, ultimately manifesting in child symptoms12,15. Significant effort has been placed on understanding the mechanisms of anxiety risk23?25 and how to either treat or modify these mechanisms8,10. Critically, the timing by which context ?gets under the skin? and ultimately results in elevated anxiety in children has been relatively ignored, perhaps as a result of adopting standard time lags in developmental research (6-12 months between assessments) and/or the absence of sophisticated statistical techniques that allow for tests of time lag as a key variable. The absence of such work has likely resulted from limited methods for considering the ways that temporal lag can moderate effects sizes. The work of this fellowship will include testing the role of temporal lag in the link between parental control (study aim #1) and SES (study aim #2) and anxiety symptoms during more and less sensitive periods of development. This work will also provide an important basis for understanding anxiety development across childhood and inform both subsequent empirical designs and the development of targeted programs of prevention in schools, homes, and communities. The current project is designed with an integrated training plan that will prepare the fellowship applicant for a future career as an independent interdisciplinary researcher. The three overarching training goals are: (1) Learn to conduct and disseminate work rooted in lag as a moderator meta-analysis (LAMMA), (2) build a foundational knowledge in adolescent development, and (3) advance Tristin?s professional development to facilitate an interdisciplinary researcher career. These training goals will effectively prepare the applicant for a future research career and lay the foundation for future research using LAMMA and examining anxiety trajectories across childhood as this development is related to contextual factors.

Public Health Relevance

Parental control and socioeconomic status predict increased risk for anxiety problems across child development, yet the timing by which contextual influences lead to increases in childhood anxiety has been relatively ignored. The proposed study will test the role of temporal lag between assessments to evaluate the link between parental control and SES and anxiety across development (3-18 years). This work will provide an important basis for understanding the timing by which contextual influences come to impact anxiety development across childhood.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Bechtholt, Anita J
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Texas A&M University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
College Station
United States
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