Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Parents of Children with Acute Burns

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Abstract

Objective

To develop a model of risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in parents of children with burns.

Methods

Immediately following the burn and 3 months later, parents reported on their children’s and their own psychological functioning and traumatic stress responses.

Results

Approximately 47% of the parents reported experiencing significant posttraumatic stress symptoms 3 months after the burn. Our model indicates three independent pathways to PTSD symptoms (i.e., parent–child conflict, parents’ dissociation, and children’s PTSD symptoms). Additionally, parents’ anxiety predicted increased parent–child conflict, conflict with extended family and size of the burn predicted parents’ dissociation, and size of the burn and children’s dissociation predicted children’s PTSD symptoms.

Conclusions

This study suggests that many parents of children with burns suffer from posttraumatic stress symptoms. Interventions that target factors such as family conflict, children’s symptoms, and parents’ acute anxiety and dissociation may diminish the risk for PTSD.

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