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Relationship between posttraumatic stress symptoms, caregiving response, and parent mental health in youth exposed to single incident trauma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume251
Early online date8 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2019

King's Authors

Abstract

Background
Family factors may alter the risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression in young people after a traumatic event, but it is not clear which modifiable family variables can be addressed in psychological therapies. This study examined the relationships between family factors (Expressed Emotion [EE] and family accommodation) and psychopathology (posttraumatic stress symptoms; PTSS) in young people following a single incident trauma. Potential mediators of these relationships were also investigated.

Method
Sixty-six parent-child dyads (aged 8–17 years) were assessed within one month of attending an Emergency Department. Self-reported PTSS and perceived EE were assessed in young people. Parents’ own PTSS, mood symptoms, EE, and accommodating behaviours were also assessed.

Results
Cross-sectional analyses revealed that young person-perceived EE, parent-reported emotional over involvement (EOI) and accommodation behaviours significantly predicted higher PTSS in young people. The stress experienced as a consequence of EE mediated the relationship between young person-perceived EOI and PTSS in young people. Parental PTSS and anxiety were positively correlated with EOI and accommodation. Parental PTSS was not significantly associated with symptoms in young people.

Conclusions
The results support the hypothesis that EE and accommodation are positively associated with PTSS in young people in the month following a potentially traumatic event. Understanding the child in the context of their family environment and relationships offers an important framework for making sense of and facilitating adaptive adjustment following a traumatic event.

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