Self-reported fears and mental health in elementary school children across Europe

Husky MM, Bitfoi A, Chan-Chee C, Carta MG, Koc C, Gölitz D, Lesinskiene S, Mihova Z, Otten R, Shojaei T, Kovess-Masfety V (2021)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2021


DOI: 10.1007/s00787-021-01823-5


Fears are common in the general population and particularly among children. The number of fear subtypes (animals, natural environment, situational, blood-injection-injury or other type) has been shown to be associated with psychopathology. Furthermore, there is evidence suggesting that some subtypes may be more often associated with mental disorders than others. The present study uses data from a large cross sectional survey, the School Children Mental Health in Europe (SCMHE) study, conducted in eight European countries on children ages 6 through 13-years-old attending elementary school (n = 9613). Fear subtypes and self-reported mental health were assessed using the Dominic Interactive (DI), a self-administered computerized image-based questionnaire. The findings show that the number of fear subtypes is strongly associated with self-reported internalizing and externalizing problems. In addition, adjusting for the number of subtypes, fear of animals was less likely than other fears to be associated with psychopathology. The findings support the notion that children who report excessive and generalized fear should be targeted for prevention, consistent with research identifying childhood onset generalized specific phobia as a probable precursor to subsequent psychopathology.

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Husky, M.M., Bitfoi, A., Chan-Chee, C., Carta, M.G., Koc, C., Gölitz, D.,... Kovess-Masfety, V. (2021). Self-reported fears and mental health in elementary school children across Europe. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.


Husky, Mathilde M., et al. "Self-reported fears and mental health in elementary school children across Europe." European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2021).

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