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Title: Post-traumatic stress reactions in children and their parents/caregivers following child trauma : understanding prevalence, risk factors and mediators within the parent-child relationship
Author: Wilcoxon, Lucy
ISNI:       0000 0004 7973 2529
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2019
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Background: The experience of trauma in childhood occurs at a time when children are highly vulnerable due to their limited emotional, cognitive and psychological development and their sole dependence on their caregivers for protection. As such, trauma can have significant consequences for both the child and the parent, with strong associations reported in the co-occurring development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Methods: Firstly, a systematic review of papers from three leading psychological databases was carried out, summarising the current evidence on the prevalence and risk factors for the development of PTSD in parents following their child's singleevent trauma. Secondly, empirical analysis of a pre-existing data set from a longitudinal study of parents and young children's psychological reactions to a single-event trauma was conducted, exploring child and parent post-trauma cognition, and the mechanisms of with the relationship between child-parent PTSD operates. Results: Meta-analysis of 41 studies (n=4370) estimated the prevalence of PTSD in parents following their child's single-event trauma to be 17.0% (95% CI 14.1- 20.0%). Pooled effect sizes of 32 risk factors were also found, relating to the trauma itself, the parent, the child and the family as a whole. The empirical study suggested the role of parental overprotectiveness as a mediator of the relationship between parent-child PTSD. Whilst also suggesting poorer fragmented memory, developmental age, parent-child separation, parenting behaviour and parents' maladaptive appraisals each account for unique variance in child PTSD at 6 months post-trauma. Conclusions: Taken together, these papers suggest a multi-factorial model of PTSD in children and their parents; drawing on cognitive, behavioural, systemic and attachment theories. Clinical implications indicate the need to bear in mind the child's developmental age when assessing post-traumatic reactions, the need for screening parents most vulnerable to adverse responses to trauma, and tailoring interventions to include the family where necessary.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available