The intergenerational impact of war: Longitudinal relationships between caregiver and child mental health in postconflict Sierra Leone

T.S. Betancourt, R.K. Mcbain, Elizabeth Newnham, R.T. Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2015 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Background Trauma from witnessing events such as bombings and killings as well as direct victimization or participation in violence has been associated with psychosocial distress and poor mental health among war-exposed children and adolescents. This study examines the relationship between caregiver mental health and child internalizing (anxiety and depression) symptoms over a 4-year period in postconflict Sierra Leone. Methods The sample included 118 adolescent Sierra Leonean youth (73% male; mean age = 16.5 years at Time 1) and their caregivers (40% male; mean age = 39.0 at Time 1). To measure depression and anxiety symptoms, the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 was used with adults and the Oxford Measure of Psychosocial Adjustment - previously validated for use with children and adolescents in the region - was used to assess youth. A multivariate hierarchical linear model (HLM) for studying change within dyads was implemented to study covariation in internalizing symptoms among caregivers and youth over time; these models also included covariates at the individual, family and community levels. The relationship of caregiver mental health to child's internalizing was tested in a latent variable extension of the HLM. Results The latent variable extension estimated that a one standard deviation (SD) change in caregiver anxiety/depression was associated with a.43 SD change in youth internalizing (p
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1101-1107
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume56
Issue number10
Early online date9 Feb 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sep 2015

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