Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Bereaved Children and Adolescents: Factor Structure and Correlates
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- Boelen, P.A. & Spuij, M. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2013) 41: 1097. doi:10.1007/s10802-013-9748-6
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This study investigated the factor structure and correlates of posttraumatic stress-disorder (PTSD) symptoms among children and adolescents confronted with the death of a loved one. Three hundred thirty-two bereaved children and adolescents (aged 8–18; 56.9 % girls) who all received some form of psychosocial support after their loss, completed self-report measures of PTSD, together with measures tapping demographic and loss-related variables, depression, prolonged grief, and functional impairment. Parent-rated indices of impairment were also collected. We first evaluated the fit of six alternative models of the factor structure of PTSD symptoms, using confirmatory factor analyses. Outcomes showed that the 4-factor numbing model from King et al. (Psychological Assessment 10, 90–96, 1998), with distinct factors of reexperiencing, avoidance, emotional numbing, and hyperarousal fit the data best. Of all participants, 51.5 % met DSM-IV criteria for PTSD. PTSD-status and scores on the PTSD factors varied as a function of age and gender, but were unrelated to other demographic and loss-related variables. PTSD-status and scores on the PTSD factors were significantly associated symptom-levels of depression, prolonged grief, and functional impairment. Findings complement prior evidence that the DSM-IV model of the factor structure of PTSD symptoms may not represent the best conceptualization of these symptoms and highlight the importance of addressing PTSD symptoms in children and adolescents seeking help after bereavement.