Examining the Utility of the Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System, 3rd Edition (DPICS-III) in the Assessment of Anxious Parent-Child Interactions
Type of DegreeDissertation
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Current conceptualizations of the etiology and maintenance of specific childhood disorders, including childhood disruptive behavior disorders and anxiety disorders, support the use of parental involvement in treatment. Although preliminary findings indicate that the incorporation of parents into the treatment of childhood anxiety disorders is beneficial, few studies to date have included a measure of parenting behavior to determine if parenting behavior changes as a result of intervention. This study sought to examine the utility of the clinical version of the Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System (DPICS), which is a comprehensive observational system for families of disruptive behavior disordered children aged 2-7, as a measure of anxious parent-child interactions by determining if the DPICS can distinguish between non-clinical, disruptive-behavior disordered, and anxious children and their parents. Participants included a total of 56 parent-child dyads across the aforementioned diagnostic groups who completed an extended DPICS observation, which is a structured analog behavior observation. Results showed the current DPICS is not sensitive enough to detect significant differences in parental control and negativity between anxious and non-clinical samples while adding support to the need for the DPICS observation to include a specific anxiety-provoking task. Implications of these findings, limitations, and future directions for research are discussed in relation to further developing appropriate assessment tools to evaluate changes in parenting behaviors that may impact the development and maintenance of childhood anxiety disorders.