Parental psychopathology, parenting styles, and the risk of social phobia in offspring: a prospective-longitudinal community study

R Lieb, H U Wittchen, M Höfler, M Fuetsch, M B Stein, K R Merikangas
Archives of General Psychiatry 2000, 57 (9): 859-66

BACKGROUND: This article examines the associations between DSM-IV social phobia and parental psychopathology, parenting style, and characteristics of family functioning in a representative community sample of adolescents.

METHODS: Findings are based on baseline and first follow-up data of 1047 adolescents aged 14 to 17 years at baseline (response rate, 74.3%), and independent diagnostic interviews with one of their parents. Diagnostic assessments in parents and adolescents were based on the DSM-IV algorithms of the Munich-Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Parenting style (rejection, emotional warmth, and overprotection) was assessed by the Questionnaire of Recalled Parental Rearing Behavior, and family functioning (problem solving, communication, roles, affective responsiveness, affective involvement, and behavioral control) was assessed by the McMaster Family Assessment Device.

RESULTS: There was a strong association between parental social phobia and social phobia among offspring (odds ratio [OR], 4.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6-13.5). Other forms of parental psychopathology also were associated with social phobia in adolescents (depression: OR, 3.6; 95% CI, 1.4-9.1; any anxiety disorder other than social phobia: OR, 3.5; 95% CI, 1.4-8.8; and any alcohol use disorder: OR, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.1-7.8). Parenting style, specifically parental overprotection (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0-1.9) and rejection (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1-1.9), was found to be associated with social phobia in respondents. Family functioning was not associated with respondents' social phobia.

CONCLUSIONS: Data suggest that parental psychopathology, particularly social phobia and depression, and perceived parenting style (overprotection and rejection) are both associated with the development of social phobia in youth.

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