European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 401–409 | Cite as

Mental health problems of Syrian refugee children: the role of parental factors

  • Seyda Eruyar
  • John Maltby
  • Panos Vostanis
Original Contribution


War-torn children are particularly vulnerable through direct trauma exposure as well through their parents’ responses. This study thus investigated the association between trauma exposure and children’s mental health, and the contribution of parent-related factors in this association. A cross-sectional study with 263 Syrian refugee children-parent dyads was conducted in Turkey. The Stressful Life Events Questionnaire (SLE), General Health Questionnaire, Parenting Stress Inventory (PSI-SF), Impact of Events Scale for Children (CRIES-8), and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire were used to measure trauma exposure, parental psychopathology, parenting-related stress, children’s post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), and mental health problems, respectively. Trauma exposure significantly accounted for unique variance in children’s PTSS scores. Parental psychopathology significantly contributed in predicting children’s general mental health, as well as emotional and conduct problems, after controlling for trauma variables. Interventions need to be tailored to refugee families’ mental health needs. Trauma-focused interventions should be applied with children with PTSD; whilst family-based approaches targeting parents’ mental health and parenting-related stress should be used in conjunction with individual interventions to improve children’s comorbid emotional and behavioural problems.


Refugee Trauma Child Parent Mental health 



We are grateful to all the families who took part in the study. Our sincere thanks to the two school principals and teachers for their kind support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest by any of the authors


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, Centre for MedicineUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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