A mixed-methods investigation of parent-child posttrauma discussion and the effects of encouraging engagement

Rosie McGuire, Rachel Hiller, Vanessa Cobham, Katharina Haag, Sarah Halligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


Recent developments in the child trauma field include preventative interventions that focus on augmenting parental support. However, we have limited knowledge of how parents experience trauma conversations with children. We examined how parents and children experienced both spontaneous trauma conversations and a structured task in which they generated a joint trauma narrative, following the child’s experience of an acute trauma. Parent and child ratings of distress during the structured narrative were low for all 127 families that took part, with child ratings of distress being lower overall than parent ratings. Task-related distress was positively associated with parent and child PTSD symptoms. Thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with a subset of twenty parents identified both facilitators of (e.g. open and honest relationship with child) and barriers to (e.g. parent/child avoidance of discussion) spontaneous trauma-related conversations with their child. Additionally, parents described the structured trauma narrative task as an opportunity to start the conversation with their child, to understand their child’s feelings, and for the child to process the trauma. However, the task was also uncomfortable or upsetting for some parents/children, and resulted in parents becoming more overprotective. The findings can inform development of low-dose interventions that encourage families to engage in trauma-related conversations following child experiences of trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1644127
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Early online date29 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Mixed-methods
  • PTSD
  • child
  • family
  • intervention
  • parenting
  • post-traumatic stress
  • posttraumatic stress
  • support
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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