Parental Adjustment, Family Functioning, and Posttraumatic Growth Among Norwegian Children and Adolescents Following a Natural Disaster

Authors


  • This study was funded by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. We would like to thank all the families who participated in the study, and we gratefully acknowledge the work of the interviewers. We thank Professor Lars Weisæth, Head of the Tsunami Research Program, and fellow researchers on the program: Grete Dyb, Trond Heir, Ajmal Hussain, Tine K. Jensen, Camilla Vibe Lindgaard, Siri Thoresen, and Arnfinn Tønnessen. Finally, we would like to thank Stephen von Tetzchner for very useful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

concerning this article should be addressed to Gertrud S. Hafstad, Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Kirkeveien 166, Building 48, 0407 Oslo, Norway. Electronic mail may be sent to gertrud.hafstad@nkvts.unirand.no.

Abstract

This study investigated the degree to which parental symptomatology and characteristics of the family environment related to posttraumatic growth (PTG) among children and adolescents who had been directly exposed to the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. One hundred five 6- to 17-year-olds (M = 11.9 years, SD = 3.3) and their parents (N = 67) were interviewed approximately 10 months and 2 years 5 months after the tsunami. The parents’ self-reported PTG was a significant predictor of PTG in their children, suggesting that social processes play a role in the development of PTG in youth. Parental self-reported posttraumatic stress symptoms did not predict PTG in their children nor did youth’s ratings of family cohesion, but parental tsunami-related sick leave related to lower levels of PTG reported by their children. Overall, these findings imply that elements of parents’ functioning can affect children’s positive adaptation after a disaster and highlight the need to assess potential parental influences and those of other sources of support in the child’s environment after trauma. Attending to such factors holds salience for efforts to promote adaptation and facilitate PTG.

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