A Systematic Literature Review of the Relationship Between Parenting Responses and Child Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms

Nimrah Afzal, Siyan Ye, Amy Page, David Trickey, Mark Lyttle, Rachel Hiller, Sarah Halligan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)
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Background: Parents are a key source of support for children exposed to single-incident/acute traumas and can thereby play a potentially significant role in children’s post-trauma psychological adjustment. However, the evidence base examining parental responses to child trauma and child posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) has yielded mixed findings.
Objective: We conducted a systematic review examining domains of parental responding in relation to child PTSS outcomes.
Method: Studies were included if they (1) assessed children (6-19 years) exposed to a potentially traumatic event, (2) assessed parental responses to a child’s trauma, and (3) quantitatively assessed the relationship between parental responses and child PTSS outcomes. A systematic search of three databases (APAPsycNet, PTSDpubs, and Web of Science) yielded 27 manuscripts.
Results: Parental overprotection, trauma communication, avoidance of trauma discussion and of trauma reminders, and distraction were consistently related to child PTSS. There was more limited evidence of a role for trauma-related appraisals, harsh parenting, and positive parenting in influencing child outcomes. Significant limitations to the evidence base were identified, including limited longitudinal evidence, single informant bias and small effect sizes.
Conclusion: We conclude that key domains of parental responses could be potential intervention targets, but further research must validate the relationship between these parental responses and child PTSS outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2156053
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • PTSD
  • child trauma
  • Parent-child relationship
  • post-traumatic stress
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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