Publication date: March 2019
Source: Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Volume 62
Author(s): Eli R. Lebowitz, Yaara Shimshoni, Wendy K. Silverman
Nightmares are commonly reported in clinically anxious children and are associated with the presence of other sleep-related problems. Family accommodation has been theorized as playing a central role in the sleep-related problems of anxious children, but empirical data is lacking. We examined associations between nightmares, maternal reports of family accommodation, and sleep-related problems in clinically anxious children. We also examined a hypothesized mediational pathway linking nightmares to other sleep-related problems, through increased family accommodation using structural equation modeling. Participants were 277 clinically anxious children (ages 6–17), and their mothers. Nightmares were reported in over three quarters of the children and were linked to higher mother-rated accommodation and to sleep-related problems. Fit indices for the structural equation model were excellent, and data supported the hypothesis that family accommodation mediates the association between nightmares and sleep-related problems in the anxious children. Results provide the first empirical evidence for the role of family accommodation in nightmares and other sleep-related problems in anxious children. Implications for assessment and treatment of childhood anxiety are discussed.