The Relationship Between Physical Illness and Internalizing Symptomatology in a Transdiagnostic Clinical Sample of Youth
Wolock, Elizabeth R.
- Background: Chronic physical health conditions affect the daily lives and functioning of many children. Prior research has consistently demonstrated that children with chronic physical illnesses report elevated anxiety and depressive symptoms compared to controls. However, less is known about how the presence and number of physical illnesses affects internalizing symptomology in treatment-seeking ... read morechildren with diagnosed emotional and behavioral disorders. The present study was designed to further investigate the relationship between physical illness and internalizing symptomology in a transdiagnostic sample of children receiving community outpatient mental health treatment for internalizing and externalizing disorders. Method: Two hundred and sixty-two treatment-seeking children ages 7-15 years old (M = 10.79, SD = 2.48) and their caregivers completed a demographic questionnaire, the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), and the Youth Self-Report (YSR) as part of a baseline assessment prior to treatment. Results: Contrary to hypotheses, there was no association between presence of a physical illness and parent- and child-reported internalizing symptoms. However, number of physical illnesses was related to some internalizing symptoms. Children with two or more physical illnesses had more severe depressive symptoms than those with one or zero illnesses. There was no effect of number of physical illnesses on self-reported or parent-rated anxiety symptoms. Conclusion: Results suggest that having multiple physical illnesses may put a child at risk for more severe psychopathology, specifically depression, even among a clinical population of children with diagnosed internalizing and/or externalizing disorders. Potential applications for clinical research and practice are discussed.read less