Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 797–810 | Cite as

The Interactive Role of Anxiety Sensitivity and Pubertal Status in Predicting Anxious Responding to Bodily Sensations among Adolescents

  • Ellen W. Leen-Feldner
  • Laura E. Reardon
  • Laura G. McKee
  • Matthew T. Feldner
  • Kimberly A. Babson
  • Michael J. J. Zvolensky
Original Article


The present study examined the interaction between pubertal status and anxiety sensitivity (AS) in predicting anxious and fearful responding to a three-minute voluntary hyperventilation challenge among 124 (57 females) adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years (Mage = 15.04; SD = 1.49). As predicted, after controlling for baseline anxiety, age, and gender, there was a significant interaction between pubertal status and AS in predicting anxious responding to bodily sensations to the hyperventilation challenge. Specifically, adolescents reporting more advanced pubertal status and higher levels of AS reported the greatest post-challenge self-reported anxiety focused on bodily sensations, whereas pubertal status had relatively less of an effect on low AS adolescents. A test of specificity also was conducted; as expected, the interaction between AS and pubertal status was unrelated to generalized negative affectivity, suggesting the predictor variables interact to confer specific risk for anxious responding to bodily sensations. Finally, exploratory analyses of psychophysiological reactivity to the challenge indicated AS, but not pubertal status, moderated the relation between challenge-related change in heart-rate and post-challenge anxiety such that high AS youth who had experienced a relatively greater heart-rate change reported the most anxious reactivity to the challenge. Results are discussed in relation to theory regarding vulnerability to anxious responding to bodily sensations among adolescents.


adolescent hyperventilation pubertal status anxiety sensitivity panic vulnerability 



This project was supported by a grant from Child & Adolescent Research and Training, Inc. awarded to the first author and National Institute on Drug Abuse research grants (1 R01 DA018734-01A1, R03 DA16307-01, and 1 R21 DA016227-01) awarded to the sixth author. The authors thank Kate Follansbee, Marc Hartigan, Justin McCormick, Amanda O’Dell, Stephanie Sinisi, and Lindsay Van Zanten for their assistance with this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen W. Leen-Feldner
    • 1
  • Laura E. Reardon
    • 1
  • Laura G. McKee
    • 2
  • Matthew T. Feldner
    • 1
  • Kimberly A. Babson
    • 1
  • Michael J. J. Zvolensky
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.University of Vermont, Department of PsychologyBurlingtonUSA

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