Associations between parental PTSD and both offspi...

Data from the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication were used to evaluate links between parental posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and elevated (1) offspring internalizing problems and (2) parental physical aggression toward children. We extended prior tests via the use of an independent nationally representative sample and by examining specific associations between these outcomes and PTSD above and beyond variance accounted for by several theoretically relevant demographic factors and PTSD-related comorbidity. As hypothesized, offspring anxiety and depression was elevated among parents with PTSD compared to those without the condition. Parents with PTSD also were more likely to endorse the use of both moderate (e.g., pushing) and severe (e.g., hitting with a fist) physical aggression with their children. These findings advance work in the area by suggesting that there is a unique relation between PTSD and these outcomes, which sets the stage for research to elucidate factors uniquely introduced by PTSD.

Research highlights

The literature base is mixed with regard to the sequelae of parental PTSD. Parental PTSD may relate to aggression toward offspring. Parental PTSD also may be associated with offspring internalizing symptoms. Data from the NCS-R indicated parental PTSD is uniquely related to these outcomes. Findings are discussed in terms of better understanding correlates of parental PTSD.

Authors: Ellen W. Leen-Feldner, Matthew T. Feldner, Liviu Bunaciu and Heidemarie Blumenthal