Somatic symptoms and parental attachment in middle childhood: the mediating role of anxiety, depressive symptomatology, and peer attachment

Valentina Spensieri, Simone Amendola, Stefania Sgrò, Giuseppe Stefano Biuso, Rita Cerutti


Somatic symptoms represent a multi-determined phenomenon that need to be addressed in both clinical and non-clinical settings in light of their impact on child emotional and psychosocial functioning. According to a developmental perspective, children with insecure attachment are more likely to experience somatic symptoms and to perceive greater symptom severity. The present study was designed to increase our understanding of the relationship between parental attachment and somatic symptoms by testing the mediational role of anxiety, peer attachment and depressive symptoms in a non-clinical sample of 332 Italian children (49.4% males) aged 8 to 11 years (Mage= 9.26; SD= 0.89) A serial multiple mediation model was used to verify the study’s hypothesis. Somatic symptoms correlated with attachment, anxiety and depressive symptoms. Anxiety, peer attachment and depression mediated the association between parental attachment and somatic symptoms. This association remained significant after controlling for mediators (b= - 0.185, p < .05), suggesting that low levels of child-parent attachment security relationships can predispose children to experience more somatic symptoms. Results are discussed considering clinical implications.


somatic symptoms; attachment; developmental perspective; mediation models; middle childhood

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Copyright (c) 2021 Valentina Spensieri, Simone Amendola, Stefania Sgrò, Giuseppe Stefano Biuso, Rita Cerutti

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ISSN PRINT:  2723-973X – ISSN ONLINE: 2724-2943

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