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Polytraumatization and psychological symptoms in children and adolescents

[journal article]

Gustafsson, Per E.; Nilsson, Doris; Svedin, Carl Göran

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Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-123831

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Abstract Previous research on the impact of traumatic experiences in children and adolescents has focused almost entirely on the effect of single trauma. Research on cumulative traumas has been lacking, but Finkelhor (Child Abuse Negl 31:7–26, 2007) has recently directed the attention to the concept of polyvictimization. As an extension of this concept, this study examined the impact of polytraumatization, operationalized as the number of different potentially traumatic events. The study population comprised two cross-sectional samples of school-aged children (n = 270) and adolescents (n = 400). Information of life-time incidence of traumatic events was collected by the life incidence of traumatic events (LITE), and psychological symptoms by the parent version of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) for the school children and the self-report trauma symptom checklist for children (TSCC) for the adolescents. We found that exposure to at least one traumatic event was common in both the samples (63% of the children and 89.5% of the adolescents). The number of different traumatic events, polytraumatization, was highly predictive of symptoms in both samples, and with a few exceptions surpassed the impact of specific events in exploratory analyses. We furthermore replicated previous findings of the important impact of interpersonal over non-interpersonal events on symptoms in both samples, and found an indication that this effect differed by gender in different manners in the two samples. This study emphasizes the significance of both the quantity of traumatic events, polytraumatization, as well as the quality, interpersonal events.
Classification Psychological Disorders, Mental Health Treatment and Prevention
Free Keywords child traumatization; symptomatology; multiple traumatization; gender differences
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 274-283
Journal European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 18 (2009) 5
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00787-008-0728-2
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)