The effect of childhood maltreatment on adult survivors' parental reflective function, and attachment of their children: A systematic review

Elmie Janse van Rensburg, Alix Woolard, Nicole T. M. Hill, Carol Reid, Helen Milroy, Jeneva L. Ohan, Ashleigh Lin, Catherine Chamberlain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Parental reflective function (PRF) is a candidate mechanism in the transmission of intergenerational trauma. This systematic review examined (1) the association between parental history of childhood maltreatment and PRF, (2) how PRF relates to attachment in children of parent survivors, and (3) whether PRF moderates the association between parental maltreatment history and child attachment.Methods: Ten databases were searched (from inception to 10(th) November 2021). Inclusion criteria were primary study, quantitative, parent participants, measures of childhood maltreatment, and postnatal PRF. Exclusion criteria were qualitative, intervention follow-up, gray literature, or a review study. Risk of bias was assessed using recommended tools. Data were narratively synthesized.Results: One-thousand-and-two articles were retrieved, of which eleven met inclusion criteria (N = 974 participants). Four studies found a significant association between parental childhood maltreatment and disrupted PRF, six did not, one found mixed results. One study reported the association between childhood maltreatment and attachment (nonsignificant results).Discussion: There is no clear evidence PRF is routinely disrupted in parent survivors, though there is high heterogeneity in studies. Future research should standardize design to better understand whether PRF is a candidate mechanism in intergenerational trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Apr 2023

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of childhood maltreatment on adult survivors' parental reflective function, and attachment of their children: A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this