Resilience and vulnerability among refugee children of traumatized and non-traumatized parents

Individual Author(s) / Organizational Author
Daud, Aita
Klinteberg, Britt
Rydelius, Per-Anders
March 2008
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health
Abstract / Description

The aim of the study was to explore resilience among refugee children whose parents had been traumatized and were suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The study comprised 80 refugee children (40 boys and 40 girls, age range 6–17 yrs), divided into two groups. The test group consisted of 40 refugee children whose parents had been tortured in Iraq before coming to Sweden. In accordance with DSM-IV criteria, these children were further divided in two sub-groups, those who were assessed as having PTSD-related symptoms (n = 31) and those who did not have PTSD-related symptoms (n = 9). The comparison group consisted of 40 children from Egypt, Syria and Morocco whose parents had not been tortured. Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 3rd edn. (WISC-III), Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents- Revised (DICA-R), Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms checklist (PTSS), "I Think I am" (ITIA) and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) were used to assess IQ; PTSD-related symptoms; self-esteem; possible resilience and vulnerability.

Children without PTSD/PTSS in the traumatized parents group had more favorable values (ITIA and SDQ) with respect to total scores, emotionality, relation to family, peer relations and prosocial behavior than the children in the same group with PTSD/PTSS and these values were similar to those the children in the comparison group (the non-traumatized parents group). The children in the non-traumatized parents group scored significantly higher on the IQ test than the children with traumatized parents, both the children with PTSD-related symptoms and those without PTSD-related symptoms.

Adequate emotional expression, supportive family relations, good peer relations, and prosociality constituted the main indicators of resilience. Further investigation is needed to explore the possible effects of these factors and the effects of IQ. The findings of this study are useful for treatment design in a holistic perspective, especially in planning the treatment for refugee children, adolescents and their families. (author abstract)


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