Anxiety related disorders in adolescents in the United Arab Emirates: A population based cross-sectional study

Nabeel Al-Yateem, Wegdan Bani-Issa, Rachel Rossiter, Arwa Al-Shujairi, Hadia Radwan, Manal Awad, Randa Fakhry, Ibrahim Mahmoud

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Anxiety disorders are common among children and adolescents. However, there is a paucity of up to date data on the prevalence and correlates of anxiety-related disorders among children and adolescents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).Methods: We conducted a cross sectional study to determine the prevalence of specific anxiety-related disorders (e.g., generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety, social anxiety) in the UAE, and identify correlations between these disorders and adolescents’ demographic variables. Participants were 968 adolescents aged 13–18 years attending secondary schools across the UAE. Convenience sampling was used to recruit participants. We collected demographic information and data about participants’ anxiety levels. Anxiety was assessed using the Arabic and English versions of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders scale. Univariate analyses (independent sample t-tests and analysis of variance) were performed to evaluate factors affectingparticipants’ anxiety scores. Chi-square tests were used to compare factors associated with anxiety disorders.Results: Participants’ mean age was 16 ± 1.8 years, and 65.8% were female. The overall prevalence of anxiety disorders was 28%, with this being significantly higher in girls (33.6%) than boys (17.2%) (p < 0.0001). Participantsaged < 16 years had higher generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, and social anxiety scores compared with those aged ≥16 years (p ≤ 0.05). Those from households with a maid had significantly higher generalized anxiety, panicdisorder, separation anxiety, and significant school avoidance scores than those without a maid (p ≤ 0.05). In addition, participants from middle and low economic backgrounds had higher separation anxiety scores comparedwith children from high economic backgrounds (p ≤ 0.05). The multivariate analysis showed the main associated factors with anxiety were gender (being female, p < 0.001) and caregiver (other than mother and father together,p < 0.001).Conclusions: We found a high incidence of anxiety-related disorders among school-aged adolescents in the UAE, with girls being more affected than boys. This suggests that age-appropriate initiatives are urgently needed toreduce the high rate of anxiety-related disorders. It may also be necessary to further investigate the two main associated factors with anxiety identified in this study (being female and non-parental caregivers).
Original languageEnglish
Article number245
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2020


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