Somatic symptoms and anxiety among African American adolescents

Julie Newman Kingery, Golda S. Ginsburg, Candice A. Alfano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Somatic symptoms are an associated feature of anxiety disorders that have received little research attention among non-White samples. In addition, the majority of previous studies have examined the influence of somatic symptoms in a cross-sectional rather than a prospective manner. This study examines the prevalence of 12 somatic symptoms, the association of somatic and anxiety symptoms (both concurrently and prospectively) with psychosocial functioning, and gender differences in somatic symptoms among a community sample of 114 African American adolescents (57 girls). In all, 83% of the sample reported at least one somatic symptom (some or most of the time within the past 2 weeks), and on average, adolescents reported 2.5 somatic symptoms. Somatic symptoms correlated positively with severity of anxiety symptoms and negatively with aspects of perceived competence. After the initial level of anxiety symptoms was controlled for, somatic symptoms were a unique predictor of perceived competence (at initial assessment) and anxiety symptoms (at 6-month follow-up). Overall, girls endorsed significantly more somatic symptoms than did boys. Findings replicate those of studies with White samples and suggest that somatic symptoms may be a risk factor for anxiety disorders among African American youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-378
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Adolescents
  • African American
  • Anxiety
  • Somatic symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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