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Attention Bias, Threat/Anxiety Symptoms Linked

Depress Anxiety; ePub 2017 Dec 6; Abend, et al

A recent study indicates associations between threat bias and pediatric anxiety symptoms, and suggests that vigilance to external threats manifests more prominently in symptoms of social anxiety and school phobia, regardless of age and gender. These findings point to the role of attention bias to threat in anxiety, with implications for translational clinical research. A total of 1,291 children and adolescents from 7 research sites worldwide completed standardized attention bias assessment task (dot-probe task) and child anxiety symptoms measure (Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders). Using a dimensional approach to symptomatology, researchers conducted regression analyses predicting overall, and disorder-specific, anxiety symptoms severity, based on threat bias scores. They found:

  • Threat bias correlated positively with overall anxiety symptoms severity (ß=0.078).
  • Furthermore, threat bias was positively associated specifically with social anxiety (ß=0.072) and school phobia (ß=0.076) symptoms severity, but not with panic, generalized anxiety, or separation anxiety symptoms.


Abend R, de Voogd L, Salemink E, et al. Association between attention bias to threat and anxiety symptoms in children and adolescents. [Published online ahead of print December 6, 2017]. Depress Anxiety. doi:10.1002/da.22706.

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