Trauma-affected refugees and their non-exposed children: A review of risk and protective factors for trauma transmission

Laura Kelstrup, Jessica Carlsson


The rates of posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) are high among refugee populations. At the same time, evidence is emerging of intergenerational transmission of psychopathology. The objective of this study was to examine the current knowledge on risk and protective factors for adverse mental health outcomes in the non-exposed offspring of trauma-affected refugees. A systematic search was undertaken from 1 January 1981 to 5 February 2021 (PubMed, Embase, PSYCInfo). Studies were included if they reported on families of trauma-exposed refugee parents and mental health outcomes in their non-exposed children. The search yielded 1415 results and twelve articles met inclusion criteria. The majority of studies emphasized the negative effects of parental mental health symptoms. There was substantial evidence of an association between parental PTSD and increased risk of psychological problems in offspring. Parenting style was identified as both a potential risk and protective factor. Risk/protective factors at the individual and family level were identified, but findings were inconclusive due to sample sizes and study designs. There is a need for evidence-based interventions aimed at improving child outcomes, especially by improving parental mental health and reinforcing parenting skills. Future research should aim to incorporate broader aspects of child development.

TidsskriftPsychiatry Research
Sider (fra-til)114604
StatusUdgivet - 4 maj 2022


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