Panic disorder and family system processes




Sliwinski, Steven W.

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This is a retrospective study based on the participants' perceptions of their family of origin. The purpose of this study has been to produce evidence that certain systemic family processes are related to Panic Disorder. One hundred and six volunteer participants were selected for this study. There was a thirty-eight member treatment group, a thirty-eight member clinical control group, and a thirty-eight member nonclinical control group. The treatment group was obtained from clinicians, nation-wide, specializing in anxiety disorders. The control groups were found among college students at a university in north Texas. Participants were screened for psychological health with the Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis, 1994) and separated into clinical and nonclinical control groups.

Participants voluntarily and anonymously filled out the Self-Report Family Checklist (SFI) (Beavers & Hampson, 1990). The five subscales of the SFI were used to measure systemic family processes that were expected to be related to Panic Disorder. These five subscales were Health, Conflict, Cohesion, Leadership, and Expressiveness. A Multivariate Analysis of Variance was used to compare the panic group with the clinical and nonclinical control groups on each of the five subscales of the SFI. Alpha was set at 0.05. The multivariate null hypothesis was rejected, and a univariate one-way analysis of variance was performed on each of the dependent variables with alpha set at 0.05. Pairwise comparisons for significant ANOVA's were performed using Tukey's WSD procedure. Significant differences were found with the Panic Disorder group scoring in the less competent direction on the Health subscale and in the less competent direction on the Conflict subscale than the nonclinical control group. These significant differences suggest that the constructs of family health and conflict resolution may be useful for conceptualizing the etiology and treatment of Panic Disorder. No significant differences were found between the clinical control group and the Panic Disorder group. The conflict resolution and family health results are considered to be preliminary evidence in support of the theory that certain systemic family processes are related to Panic Disorder.


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Social sciences, Psychology, Family, Panic disorder