A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Parental Perceptions of Childhood Separation Anxiety Disorder Symptoms and Likelihood to Seek Help

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Journal Article
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2018, 49 (3), pp. 453 - 469
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© 2018, © The Author(s) 2018. This study examined cross-cultural differences in parental interpretations of childhood separation anxiety disorder (SAD) symptoms and their subsequent likelihood to seek help or advice. It also assessed level of acculturation to Western society as a potential predictor of Asian parents’ judgments of perceived pathology and likelihood to seek help. A total of 108 Caucasian and Asian parents were presented with a vignette of a child displaying behaviors indicative of SAD and asked to rate their level of perceived pathology and likelihood to seek help. Results showed that Caucasian and Asian parents gave similar ratings of perceived pathology. However, Caucasian parents reported a greater likelihood to seek help or advice for SAD symptoms than Asian parents. Level of acculturation to Western society was not a statistically significant predictor of Asian parents’ perceptions and likelihood to seek help, above and beyond the variance explained by demographic factors and level of shame associated with help seeking. Although conclusions are discussed in light of methodological limitations, these preliminary findings highlight the importance of considering cultural factors when investigating children’s access to mental health services, especially when the presenting issue is SAD.
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