Psychological Medicine

Research Article

Recent friendships in anxious and depressed school age children

I. M. Goodyera1 c1, C. Wrighta1 and P. M. E. Althama1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge Clinical School, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge; Department of Psychiatric Social Work, Booth Hall Children's Hospital, Blackley, Manchester and Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge

Abstract

A consecutive series of school age children (7 to 16 years) with emotional disorders (N = 100) were compared with a series of community controls (N = 100) matched for age, sex and social class for the quality of their friendships. A semi-structured interview was developed to measure the quality of friendship for this purpose. Significantly more (48%) children with emotional disorder were likely to be rated as experiencing moderate to poor friendships in the 12 months prior to the onset of symptoms than were controls (16%) in the 12 months prior to interview. Prepubertal children with moderate to poor friendship patterns were classified as either predominantly anxious or depressed. Postpubertal children with moderate to poor friendships patterns were, in contrast, predominantly anxious. These findings suggest that puberty denotes a point of change for the impact of friendship deficits on the psychopathology of emotional disorder. There were no sex differences in the clinical classification of children with moderate or poor friendship patterns.

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr I. M. Goodyer, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge Clinical School, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QQ

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