The Role of Parents, Parenting and the Family Environment in Children’s Post-Disaster Mental Health

  • Vanessa E. CobhamEmail author
  • Brett McDermott
  • Divna Haslam
  • Matthew R. Sanders
Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry (B Pfefferbaum, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry


There is widespread support for the hypothesis that, post-disaster, children’s mental health is impacted—at least in part—via the impact on parents, parenting, parent-child interactions, and the family environment. To some degree, the enthusiasm with which this hypothesis is held outstrips the evidence examining it. The current paper critically evaluates the empirical evidence for this hypothesis and concludes that although limited (both in terms of number of existing studies and methodological flaws), the extant literature indicates some parent-related variables, as well as some aspects of the family environment are likely to constitute risk or protective factors for children. Given that parenting is modifiable, it is proposed that the identified parent- and family-related factors represent important therapeutic targets, and a universal post-disaster parenting intervention (Disaster Recovery Triple P) is described.


Disaster Children Parenting Family environment Mental health 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Vanessa E. Cobham and Brett McDermott, as program authors, receive royalties from Triple P International Pty Ltd from dissemination of Disaster Recovery Triple P.

Divna Haslam is a paid training consultant to Triple P International, who is licensed by the University of Queensland to disseminate Triple P worldwide. Triple P International pays a research fee to UQ to support ongoing research and development activities in the Parenting and Family Support Centre. Dr. Haslam has copyright on Workplace Triple P with royalties paid to Triple P International Pty Ltd.

Matthew R. Sanders is a paid consultant to Triple P International, who is licensed by the University of Queensland to disseminate Triple P worldwide. Triple P International pays a research fee to UQ to support ongoing research and development activities in the Parenting and Family Support Centre. Disaster Recovery Triple P is owned by the University of Queensland. UQ’s main technology transfer company UniQuest has licensed Triple P International to disseminate the program worldwide. Royalties are paid to the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, the Parenting and Family Support Centre in the School of Psychology, and contributory authors. Dr. Sanders is a contributory author and a consultant to Triple P International.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vanessa E. Cobham
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Brett McDermott
    • 2
  • Divna Haslam
    • 3
  • Matthew R. Sanders
    • 3
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.James Cook UniversityDouglasAustralia
  3. 3.Parenting and Family Support CentreUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  4. 4.Mater Research InstituteUniversity of QueenslandSouth BrisbaneAustralia

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