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Keywords:

  • childrearing;
  • Japan;
  • risk factors;
  • social class;
  • social isolation

Aims: Hikikomori is a form of social withdrawal among those who retreat from social interaction for protracted periods of time. This study examines family-related childhood factors for hikikomori using the retrospective data derived from a population-based survey.

Methods:  We derived data from World Mental Health Survey Japan. The subjects of this study were community residents aged 20–49 years (n = 708). Multiple logistic regression was applied to examine the association between the lifetime experience of hikikomori and childhood family environment, adjusting for sex, age, and respondents' history of common mental disorders.

Results:  Father's high educational level (odds ratio [OR] = 6.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.6–22.9), mother's common mental disorders (OR = 5.9, 95%CI = 1.1–33.3), and mother's panic disorders (OR = 6.6, 95%CI = 1.1–39.1) were significantly and positively associated with hikikomori after controlling for respondents' sex, age, and history of mental disorders.

Conclusions:  Our findings suggest that hikikomori cases are more likely to occur in families where the parents have high levels of education. Maternal panic disorder may be another risk factor for children to develop hikikomori.