The relationship between emotion awareness and somatic complaints in children and adolescents: Investigating the mediating role of anxiety and depression

Shelley M. C. van der Veek, Rob A. Nobel, H. H. F. Derkx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The objective of this study was to examine if emotion awareness in children and adolescents (age 7-18 years old) is directly related to somatic complaints, and if this relationship holds when considering symptoms of anxiety and depression as mediating factors. A number of questionnaires measuring emotion awareness, symptoms of anxiety and depression and somatic complaints were administered to Dutch schoolchildren (N = 617). A path model was constructed, with the use of structural equation modelling. The results showed that two aspects of emotion awareness (bodily awareness and differentiating between emotions) contributed to the prediction of somatic complaints. However, this was no longer the case when controlling for symptoms of anxiety and depression. Thus, in this study, no direct relation was found between emotion awareness and somatic complaints. Instead, the relation was perfectly mediated by symptoms of anxiety and depression. The results suggest that focusing only on the relation between emotion awareness and somatic complaints is an oversimplified perspective that falls short as a starting point to find therapeutic solutions for children who suffer from somatic complaints
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1359-1374
JournalPsychology & Health
Volume27
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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