PDA Research at Newcastle University - Summary of Findings

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We have received the following email information from the researcher at Newcastle University

'Thank you to all those who participated in Newcastle Universities research study, which aimed to examine whether Intolerance of Uncertainty (IU) and anxiety are associated with PDA behaviour.  The project is now complete and the following is a summary of the main findings.     

Our research consisted of two studies.  In the first study, we collected data from 214 parents and carers online, and in the second study we interviewed 11 participants from Study One.  We found that IU and anxiety were both associated with PDA behaviour in children, and that IU was even more strongly associated with PDA than anxiety.  Furthermore, the pattern of findings suggested that children engage in different types of behaviour in a hierarchical manner, beginning with behaviours that aim to achieve control in the first instance (as a response to feeling uncertain); followed by withdrawal into fantasy (e.g. adopting the persona of others) if attempts to control are unsuccessful; and finally, as a last resort, more extreme behaviours such as emotional outbursts or even aggression.  Thus, in this way, PDA behaviours might represent a hierarchy of behavioural responses to increasing anxiety in the face of uncertainty and failed attempts on the child’s part to increase certainty.  If IU and anxiety can help us to understand why children with PDA display the behaviours they do, then developing interventions that help children to cope better with IU and anxiety might be useful starting points.'      
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