Parent-reported posttraumatic stress reactions in children and adolescents: Findings from the mental health of parents and children in Ukraine study.

Dmytro Martsenkovskyi, Thanos Karatzias, Philip Hyland, Mark Shevlin, Menachem Ben-Ezra, Eoin McElroy, Enya Redican, Maria Louison Vang, Marylene Cloitre, Grace W.K. Ho, Boris Lorberg, Igor Martsenkovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Despite the long-standing ongoing war in Ukraine, information regarding war-related negative mental health outcomes in children is limited. A nationwide sample of parents in Ukraine was surveyed to assess posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in their children and to identify risk factors associated with child PTSD status. Method: A nationwide opportunistic sample of 1,238 parents reported on a single randomly chosen child within their household as part of The Mental Health of Parents and Children in Ukraine Study. Data were collected approximately 6 months after the war escalation in February 2022. The prevalence of PTSD was estimated using the parent-reported Child and Adolescent Trauma Screen (CATS). Results: Based on parental reports, 17.5% of preschoolers and 12.6% of school-age children met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.) criteria for PTSD. Delay in milestone development (AOR = 2.38, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.38–4.08]), having a parent affiliated with the emergency services or army (AOR = 2.13, [1.28–3.53]), parental PTSD/complex PTSD status (AOR = 1.88, [1.22–2.89]), and mean changes in parental anxiety (AOR = 1.98, [1.44–2.72]) were among the strongest predictors of increased risk of pediatric PTSD. Conclusion: Russia’s war escalation in Ukraine resulted in an increased estimated prevalence of war-related PTSD in children of various ages. Urgent efforts to increase the capacity of national pediatric mental health services are critically needed to mitigate these challenges in an environment of limited financial and human resources. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved) Based on parental reports, 54% of children living in Ukraine about 6 months after Russia’s full-scale invasion had been exposed to a war-related stressor and 14% met criteria for a provisional Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis. Children with a history of developmental delay, emotional or behavioral problems, who were internally displaced, who have a parent affiliated with critical services and the army, and whose parents are experiencing traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression-related problems due to the war are at highest risk of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • children
  • mental health
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • war

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