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Attachment Narratives in Refugee Children: Interrater Reliability and Qualitative Analysis in Pilot Findings From a Two-Site Study


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lucia De Haene, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Leuven, Belgium, Vesaliusstraat 2, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. E-mail:


Although forced migration research on refugee family functioning clearly points to the potential breakdown of parental availability and responsiveness in the context of cumulative migration stressors, studies exploring attachment security in refugee children are surprisingly lacking so far. The authors report their findings from a 2-site, small-scale administration of an attachment measure, adapted for use with refugee children aged between 4 and 9 years from a reliable and validated doll-play procedure. We evaluated interrater reliability and conducted a qualitative analysis of refugee children's narrative response to identify migration-specific representational markers of attachment quality. The level of agreement among 3 independent coders ranged between .54 to 1.00 for both study samples, providing initial psychometric evidence of the measure's value in assessing child attachment security in this population. The exploratory analysis of migration-related narrative markers pointed to specific parameters to be used in parent–child observational assessments in future validation of the attachment measure, such as parental withdrawal or trauma-communication within the parent–child dyad.

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