The Role of the Family in Child and Adolescent Posttraumatic Stress Following Attendance at an Emergency Department

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ObjectiveTo evaluate the role of family factors in posttraumatic stress symptomatology (PTSS) in children and adolescents who have attended an emergency department following assaults or motor vehicle accident.MethodsChildren and their parents completed self-report questionnaires and semistructured interviews relating to their psychopathology and cognitive styles at 2–4 weeks and 6 months after trauma.ResultsParental depression was correlated with child PTSS at each assessment point. Less consistent findings were observed for family functioning. Parental endorsement of worry was a correlate of child PTSS at each assessment and a mediator between parental depression and child PTSS.ConclusionsA role for family factors, in particular parental depression and parental endorsement of worry, in the development of child PTSS is supported. Weaknesses of the study are discussed, and suggestions for future research are given.

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