, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 273-280

Anxiety and fear

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Objective: We assessed the ability of child and adolescent practitioners to discriminate between anxiety items from the Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCMAS) and fear items from the Fear Survey Schedule for Children-Revised (FSSC-R). In addition, we examined the effects age, gender, nationality, and therapeutic orientation on discrimination ability. Method: Child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychologists from two university hospitals in Australia and the USA completed a questionnaire comprised of items randomly chosen from the RCMAS and the FSSC-R. Clinicians rated each item on the extent to which the item represented the construct of anxiety or fear, using a 7-point Likert-type scale. Results: Clinicians were more accurate in their perceptions of anxiety than in their perceptions of fear. Clinicians with a psychodynamic orientation were more likely to perceive an item as describing anxiety, and were less likely to identify fear. There was a significant interaction between age, scale and perception, with the youngest clinicians showing the greatest perceptual differentiation between the fear and anxiety items. Conclusions: The results suggest a need to develop common terminology among researchers and clinicians, develop scales with items specific to the pathology they intend to measure, and consider the variables influencing the clinicians rating them.

Accepted: 23 September 2002
Correspondence to Dr. M. N. Pavuluri