Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 328–345 | Cite as

Children’s Mental Health and Well-Being After Parental Intimate Partner Homicide: A Systematic Review

  • Eva AlisicEmail author
  • Revathi N. Krishna
  • Arend Groot
  • John W. Frederick


When one parent kills the other, children are confronted with multiple losses, involving their attachment figures and their direct living environment. In these complex situations, potentially drastic decisions are made, for example, regarding new living arrangements and contact with the perpetrating parent. We aimed to synthesize the empirical literature on children’s mental health and well-being after parental intimate partner homicide. A systematic search identified 17 relevant peer-reviewed articles (13 independent samples). We recorded the theoretical background, methodology, and sample characteristics of the studies, and extracted all child outcomes as well as potential risk and protective factors. Children’s outcomes varied widely and included psychological, social, physical, and academic consequences (e.g., post-traumatic stress, attachment difficulties, weight and appetite changes, and drops in school grades). Potential risk and protective factors for children’s outcomes included 10 categories of pre-, peri-, and post-homicide characteristics such as cultural background of the family, whether the child witnessed the homicide, and the level of conflict between the families of the victim and the perpetrator. We integrated the findings into a conceptual model of risk factors to direct clinical reflection and further research.


Bereavement Domestic violence Femicide Intimate partner violence  PTSD Uxoricide 



We would like to thank Dr. Peter Sidebotham and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on previous versions of the manuscript. Dr Alisic has been supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (Rubicon Fellowship 446-11-021) and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (Early Career Fellowship 1090229).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Alisic
    • 1
    Email author
  • Revathi N. Krishna
    • 1
    • 2
  • Arend Groot
    • 3
  • John W. Frederick
    • 1
  1. 1.Monash Injury Research InstituteMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.SangathAlto-PorvorimIndia
  3. 3.Psychotrauma Centre Wilhelmina Children’s HospitalUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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