Criticism and accommodation are associated with treatment concerns in close others to those with anxiety Academic Article uri icon

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  • Objectives

    Those close to people with mental health difficulties (e.g., family members, romantic partners and close friends) are often involved in their care decisions. Research shows that criticism by close others and accommodation of symptoms are associated with symptom severity and treatment response. Recent research has found that those close to someone with an anxiety disorder report a range of concerns about their loved one starting cognitive-behaviour therapy (e.g., that treatment will cause the person to change in undesirable ways). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between close others' criticism and symptom accommodation and their treatment concerns, hypothesizing that these relationships would be significant.


    Close others to those with notable anxiety (N = 287) completed self-report measures online. Multiple regression was used to test our hypothesis.


    Respondents who identified as being close to someone with notable anxiety completed measures of their accommodation of anxiety symptoms, feelings of criticism/hostility towards them, concerns about them starting treatment, perceived impairment due to anxiety, and their own and their loved ones' treatment history.


    Greater criticism and accommodation significantly predicted greater treatment concerns, with a medium effect size, controlling for degree of impairment due to anxiety and treatment history.


    Criticism and accommodation may reflect appraisal of the person with anxiety as weak or fragile, which may evoke concerns about treatment success. Implications for clinicians and anxiety treatment are discussed.


publication date

  • October 18, 2022