The metacognitive model of anxiety in children: towards a reliable and valid measure

Julia A. White, Jennifer L. Hudson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has extended the metacognitive model of adult psychopathology to childhood anxiety, however the results have been confounded by poor comprehension of the Metacognitions Questionnaire for Children (MCQ-C) amongst 7–8 year olds. The aim of this study was to improve comprehension of the MCQ-C, to enable reliable and valid evaluation of the metacognitive model of anxiety in children. Poorly comprehended items of the MCQ-C were revised to the appropriate reading level and pilot tested with 7–8 year olds. One hundred and eighty seven children aged 7–12 years then completed an online version of the revised MCQ-C (MCQ-CR) and self-report measures of anxiety symptoms, excessive worry and externalising thoughts. The MCQ-CR was well understood by children as young as 7 years and exhibited sound psychometric properties. As predicted, children’s negative beliefs about worry, thoughts in general and memories were found to be significantly positively related to symptoms of anxiety disorders. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the construct validity of the scale. Positive beliefs about worry were not associated with children’s worry levels, raising questions about the relevance of this element of the metacognitive model with children. Although further validation is required with a clinical sample, these results provide support for the integral role played by metacognitions in childhood anxiety disorders, and suggest that these mechanisms may be appropriate targets for future early intervention and treatment programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-106
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


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