Somatic Complaints in Children with Anxiety Disorders and their Unique Prediction of Poorer Academic Performance

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The present study aimed to examine somatic complaints in children with anxiety disorders compared to non-anxious control children and whether somatic complaints predict poorer academic performance. The sample consisted of 108 children and adolescents (aged 8–14 years) assessed by a structured diagnostic interview: 69 with a principal (i.e., most severe and/or interfering) anxiety disorder diagnosis and 39 non-anxious community controls. Established child and parent report measure of somatic complaints, anxiety, and internalizing symptoms were completed. The participants' primary teacher was used to assess academic performance. Findings indicated that children with anxiety disorders reported more somatic complaints than the non-anxious community controls. Furthermore, a greater frequency of somatic complaints uniquely predicted poorer academic performance beyond that accounted for by anxiety and internalizing symptoms based on both child and parent report measures. Knowledge about somatic complaints in children with anxiety disorders and their relation to academic functioning may allow for early identification and prevent academic problems.

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