Coordination difficulty and internalising symptoms in adults: A twin/sibling study

Waszczyk, Monika A.; Leonard, Hayley C.; Hill, Elisabeth L.; Rowe, Richard and Gregory, Alice M.. 2016. Coordination difficulty and internalising symptoms in adults: A twin/sibling study. Psychiatry Research, 239, pp. 1-8. ISSN 0165-1781 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Increased anxiety and depression symptoms have been reported in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, and have been found to be associated with motor coordination difficulties, but little is known about the aetiology of these associations. This study aimed to assess genetic, shared (making twins/siblings alike) and non-shared (individual-specific) environmental influences on the association between poor coordination and symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood using a sample of adult twin and sibling pairs. Participants were asked about their coordination skill and anxiety and depression symptoms. About half of the variance in coordination difficulty was explained by familial (combined genetic and shared environmental) influences, with the remaining variance explained by non-shared environmental influences. Phenotypic associations between coordination and anxiety (r = .46) and depression symptoms (r = .44) were largely underpinned by shared familial liability for the three traits. Non-shared environment accounted for about a third of the phenotypic association. Results suggest that both familial and non-shared environmental influences play a role in the aetiology of coordination difficulty and its association with internalizing symptoms. The current study highlights that both biological and environmental pathways shared between these symptoms should be examined in future research to inform prevention and treatment approaches in clinical settings.

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Waves 1–3 of G1219 were funded by the W. T. Grant Foundation, the University of London Central Research fund and a Medical Research Council Training Fellowship (G81/343) and Career Development Award to Thalia C. Eley, founder of the G1219 study. Wave 4 was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (RES-000-22-2206) and the Institute of Social Psychiatry (06/07–11) to AMG, who was supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (RF/2/RFG/2008/ 0145). Wave 5 was supported by funding to AMG by the Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London. Monika A. Waszczuk was supported by a PhD studentship funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


anxiety; coordination; depression; Developmental Coordination Disorder; twin study; dyspraxia

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30 May 2016Published
19 February 2016Published Online
18 February 2016Accepted

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24 Feb 2016 11:49

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:14

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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