Parental unemployment and post traumatic stress disorder symptoms

Parental unemployment and post traumatic stress disorder symptoms

Ion N. Beratis, Eva M. Syngelaki, John Tsiantis, Alkis Constantine J. Tsiantis

Scope: Greece is under a devastating economic crisis that has a deleterious impact on psychosocial health since 2009. The aim of the present study was to explore the impact of parental unemployment on the development of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in students. Method: Participants were 2628 primary school students from the largest metropolitan area of southern Greece.There were 844 4th graders, 854 5th graders and 930 6th graders who were selected from 35 elementary schools using stratified random sampling procedures. There were 1322 girls and 1306 boys. Ninety six percent of the students were of Greek origin and the remaining had been born in other countries (N = 15).  The current research was part of a larger anti-bullying prevention program. Students were administered a battery of measures including the Child Posttraumatic Stress Reaction Index (Frederick, 1985). Modifications in Greek involved adapting item phrasing to reflect PTSD symptoms in relation to exposure to school bullying. According to the information provided by the students, 33 of them had both parents unemployed. The PTSD levels of students with both parents unemployed were compared with the PTSD levels of students with at least one of their parents employed by performing one-way ANOVA. Results: The ANOVA model applied revealed significantly greater PTSD levels in children with both parents unemployed (Mean=30.3, SD=18.4) as compared to children with at least one of their parents employed (Mean=23.9, SD=12.7), F(1,2375)=7.1, p<0.01. The prevalence of school bullying was similar between the two groups of students. No significant variations were observed between the groups in reference to various demographic characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, and parental level of education. Conclusions: The present findings indicate the need for the development of individualised psychosocial interventions that focus on supporting children experiencing environmental stressors such as parental unemployment.

15th International Congress of the European Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Dublin, Ireland, 2013

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