Parent and child distress after war exposure

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ObjectivesThe purpose of this study was to examine multiple distress symptoms (i.e., post-traumatic stress [PTS], anxiety, depression) among parents and children exposed to the Gulf Crisis in 1990–1991. Profiles of parent distress were identified, and the relationship between parent distress and specific child distress symptoms was examined.DesignParents and children were assessed at one time point.MethodsParticipants included 151 children (Mage = 10.62 years; 51% female) and 140 parents (Mage = 40 years; 81% female).ResultsUtilizing latent profile analysis, three parallel profiles of parent distress were identified: low distress, moderate distress, and high distress. Parent distress was a risk factor for child depression, but it was not a risk factor for child PTS or anxiety.ConclusionsFindings support the importance of broadening the scope of research conducted after exposure to traumatic events to include the assessment of anxiety and depression, as well as PTS, among both parents and children. Additional implications for research and clinical work are discussed.Practitioner pointsFindings support the importance of screening for multiple distress symptoms among both children and parents after war exposure.Based on our findings, clinicians may want to consider including parents in therapy for children reporting psychological distress, especially depression symptoms, after exposure to traumatic events.This study was cross-sectional. Thus, we are not able to infer direction or causality.The generalizability of our study should be interpreted with caution, as findings will need to be replicated across other populations and other cultures.

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