, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 10-18

A study of posttraumatic disorders in children who experienced an industrial disaster in the Briey region

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Objectives: To study posttraumatic disorders in children who were directly and indirectly involved in an industrial disaster; to assess the respective impact of traumatism exposure, parental disorders and sociodemographic variables on the posttraumatic disorders of the children.

Methods: The children were assessed with self-administered questionnaires (STAIC, CDI, IES) and questionnaires filled in by parents (CPRS, CBCL). Parents were assessed with the GHQ-28. Forty-three exposed children were compared with 44 children who were exposed to the same risk (indirectly exposed group) and with a control group of 50 unexposed children.

Results: The exposed group obtained significantly higher anxiety and trauma-related scores than the control group and the threatened group, as well as higher scores of behavioural symptoms and of parental disorders. Indirectly exposed children did not have higher rates of symptoms than control children. The younger exposed children exhibited the highest psychopathological scores. Low sociodemographic status was associated with more disorders. There were no differences on questionnaire scores between girls and boys. Children's disorders correlated with disorders in both parents; but this only accounted for part of the variance, a finding which supports the hypothesis of a direct impact of the trauma on the child, irrespective of parental clinical status, SES of the family, children's age and gender.

Conclusions: Children's and parents' disorders interact in a complex fashion which needs further study.