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The adjustment of children of Australian Vietnam veterans: is there evidence for the transgenerational transmission of the effects of war-related trauma?

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2001, 00:00 authored by A Davidson, David MellorDavid Mellor
Objective: The presence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in trauma survivors has been linked with family dysfunction and symptoms in their children, including lower self-esteem, higher disorder rates and symptoms resembling those of the traumatized parent. This study aims to examine the phenomenon of intergenerational transfer of PTSD in an Australian context.

Method: 50 children (aged 16–30) of 50 male Vietnam veterans, subgrouped according to their fathers' PTSD status, were compared with an age-matched group of 33 civilian peers. Participants completed questionnaires with measures of self-esteem, PTSD symptomatology and family functioning.

Results:
Contrary to expectations, no significant differences were found between the self-esteem and PTSD symptomatology scores for any offspring groups. Unhealthy family functioning is the area in which the effect of the veteran's PTSD appears to manifest itself, particularly the inability of the family both to experience appropriate emotional responses and to solve problems effectively within and outside the family unit.

Conclusion: Methodological refinements and further focus on the role of wives/mothers in buffering the impact of veterans' PTSD symptomatology on their children are indicated. Further effort to support families of Veterans with PTSD is also indicated.

History

Journal

Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry

Volume

35

Issue

3

Pagination

345 - 351

Publisher

Blackwell Science Asia Pty Ltd

Location

Carlton, Vic.

ISSN

0004-8674

eISSN

1440-1614

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal