A meta-analysis of risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents

David Trickey, Andy P. Siddaway, Richard Meiser-Stedman, Lucy Serpell, Andy P. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

407 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex and chronic disorder that causes substantial distress and interferes with social and educational functioning. Consequently, identifying the risk factors that make a child more likely to experience traumatic distress is of academic, clinical and social importance. This meta-analysis estimated the population effect sizes of 25 potential risk factors for PTSD in children and adolescents aged 6-18. years across 64 studies (N=32,238). Medium to large effect sizes were shown for many factors relating to subjective experience of the event and post-trauma variables (low social support, peri-trauma fear, perceived life threat, social withdrawal, comorbid psychological problem, poor family functioning, distraction, PTSD at time 1, and thought suppression); whereas pre-trauma variables and more objective measures of the assumed severity of the event generated small to medium effect sizes. This indicates that subjective peri-trauma factors and post-event factors are likely to have a major role in determining whether a child develops PTSD following exposure to a traumatic event. Such factors could potentially be assessed following a potentially traumatic event in order to screen for those most vulnerable to developing PTSD and target treatment efforts accordingly. The findings support the cognitive model of PTSD as a way of understanding its development and guiding interventions to reduce symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-138
Number of pages17
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Volume32
Issue number2
Early online date8 Dec 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012

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