Family Functioning and Anxiety Symptoms in Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Mindfulness

Nicole Kathleen Watkins, Caroline Salafia, Christine Mc Cauley Ohannessian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Anxiety disorders are one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders among adolescents and can be associated with long-term adverse outcomes if untreated. Our study examined the association between family functioning and symptoms of five anxiety disorders and the potential moderating role of trait mindfulness among adolescent boys and girls. The sample included 1333 adolescents ages 11–15 (Mage = 12.24; SD = 0.69; 51% girls; 52% non-Hispanic White) from the Northeast United States who completed a survey in the fall of 2016 and again in the spring of 2017. Multi-group path analyses were conducted to examine the association separately by gender. For boys, high mindfulness buffered the effect of low family support and high family conflict on the panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety (SEP), and severe school avoidance (SSA). For girls, a cumulative effect of high mindfulness and high family support reduced symptoms for PD and SSA, whereas high mindfulness buffered the effect of low family cohesion on GAD and social anxiety disorder (SAD). Our findings highlight the importance of family functioning on anxiety disorders in adolescents and suggest trait mindfulness may serve as a potential buffer for anxiety in adolescent boys. Implications for these gender differences, potential benefits of socio-emotional learning instruction for adolescents, and future directions are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1474-1488
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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