Parent vs Burn-Injured Child Self-Report: Contributions to a Better Understanding of Anxiety Levels

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Anxiety disorders are the most commonly reported form of mental health problem among youth, but they often go undiagnosed and untreated. This study examined the relationship between burn-injured youths’ self-reported anxiety levels, as compared with their parent’s perceptions of their child’s emotional well-being. Burn-injured children were invited to voluntarily complete the Child Version of the 41-item survey, Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders, which consists of five anxiety subscales as well as a Total Anxiety Score. Parents were invited to complete the Parent Version. Sixty-three parent–child dyads, with girls (57%) and boys (43%), completed surveys. Mothers (73%) fathers (16%), and other caregivers (11%) participated. Youth mean age was 12.63 years and 60% reported visible burn scars. Matched-pairs t-tests were used to compare parent and child reports. Significantly lower mean scores were found between Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders Total Anxiety Score—Parent mean score of 10.52 vs the Youth mean score 21.06 (P<.001), as well as on all subscales including; panic disorder/somatic symptoms (P<.001), generalized anxiety disorder (P=.004), social anxiety disorder (separation anxiety (P<.001), and school avoidance (P<0.001). Results indicate that parents may be severely underestimating the psychological well-being of burn-injured youth. Findings emphasize the importance of a comprehensive approach in assessment for anxiety, involving the collection of feedback from both child and parent. Asking children for input into their psychological well-being is important. This study reinforces the need for a course of ongoing patient and parent education.

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