Can the metacognitive model of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and chronic worry in adults be applied to children?

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Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and University of Sussex report 2 studies in: Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology that begin to answer this important question. The study found that in a community sample of 587 youth aged 7-17 years metacognitive beliefs that are central in the model explained unique variation (14%) in worry scores beyond the effects of gender, age and anxiety. In study 2, children aged 7-12 with and without a diagnosis of generalized anxiety were compared. The results confirmed that the GAD group showed higher negative metacognition belief scores than a group comprised of other anxiety disorders and a non-anxious group. The authors conclude that the results of their study support the extension of the metacognitive model to children as young as 7 years of age.

Reference: Esbjorn, B.H., Nielson, L.S.K., Reinhioldt-Dunne, M.L., Somhovd, M.J. & Cartwright- Hatton, S. (2014). Meta-worry, worry and anxiety in children and adolescents: Relationships and interactions. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2013.873980.