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

Trickey D, Siddaway A, Meiser-Steadman R, Serpell L & Field A (2012) A meta-analysis of risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents. Clinical Psychology Review, 32 (2), pp. 122-138.

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.

Post-traumatic stress disorder; Risk factor; Children; Adolescent; Predictor

Clinical Psychology Review: Volume 32, Issue 2

Author(s)Trickey, David; Siddaway, Andrew; Meiser-Steadman, Richard; Serpell, Lucy; Field, Andy
Publication date31/03/2012
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