Childhood Anxiety: The Feasibility of a School Staff Intervention and the Role of Peer Victimisation

Nicola, Elene (2023) Childhood Anxiety: The Feasibility of a School Staff Intervention and the Role of Peer Victimisation. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of 2023NicolaEClinPsyD.pdf]
Download (3MB) | Preview


Background: Anxiety is the most common childhood mental health difficulty and is likely to persist into adulthood without intervention. The aims of this thesis were twofold, firstly to examine the role that peer victimisation plays in anxiety development and its maintenance, and then to evaluate a newly developed school staff intervention that intends to support and prevent the escalation of childhood anxiety difficulties. Methods: A meta-analysis was conducted to examine the bidirectional effects between several types of peer victimisation and anxiety symptomatology among children and adolescents. The type of anxiety was also examined as a moderator to determine its influence. The empirical study explored the feasibility and acceptability of a newly developed psychoeducation intervention on childhood anxiety for school staff. The intervention was based on cognitive behavioural approaches and aimed to provide an overview of mild to moderate anxiety difficulties, along with strategies that could be implemented by staff within the school setting. Results: 14 studies were included in the meta-analysis, and bidirectional effects were found between all types of peer victimisation and anxiety symptoms. Relational forms of peer victimisation were shown to predict social anxiety symptoms to a greater extent than anxiety symptoms more generally. It was also found that general anxiety symptoms moderated overt types of victimisations more so than social anxiety. The empirical study recruited 76 participants in total, who rated the intervention as engaging, useful and appropriate. Participants also reported an improvement in their knowledge of childhood anxiety and increased confidence in applying anxiety strategies in their work. Preliminary efficacy findings showed that school staff responses to children’s anxious behaviours were significantly different following the intervention, as they were more likely to adopt responses and strategies supported by cognitive behavioural theory. Conclusions: Given the findings, it has been observed that peer victimisation and childhood anxiety in schools are closely linked. Psychoeducation interventions for school staff have been shown to be a feasible and acceptable method in increasing knowledge around anxiety and aids the application of strategies that may support anxious children and prevent the escalation of anxiety difficulties at school.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2023 13:28
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 13:28


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item