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The Role of Attachment and Emotion Regulation in the Psychosocial Intervention Among War-Affected Children

Abstract

This study examined (1) how attachment style predicts changes in mental health, and (2) whether change in emotion regulation (ER) intensity mediates that association in the context of psychosocial intervention among war-affected children. Participants were 482 Palestinian children whose school classes were randomized to either intervention (Teaching Recovery Techniques, TRT) or waiting-list groups. Attachment style, emotion regulation, and mental health were measured. The children with secure attachment were more likely to gain improved mental health in both conditions, but also preoccupied-insecure children showed improved mental health in the TRT. In the control group, instead, children with more attachment avoidance reported deteriorated mental health, and no changes in mental health was found among preoccupied children. Changes in the ER intensity did not mediate the association between attachment style and mental health in either groups. Discussion focuses on attachment-specific mechanisms underlying recovery from war trauma.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the children and their families for the participation and to the Academy of Finland (# 215555) for the financing of the study. Without our committed field workers, Mohmed Shame, Mohmed Motter, Amel Hossen, Reham Faed, and Ahmed Syied this study could not be realized. We are grateful for the Ministry of Education, and headmasters and teachers of the schools who kindly helped us during the data collection and intervention organization. Finally, we thank professors Fenton Earls and Mary Carlsson for their rigorous support during the intervention and research work.

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Correspondence to Raija-Leena Punamäki.

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This study was funded by the Academy of Finland (# 215555).

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Eloranta, S., Peltonen, K., Palosaari, E. et al. The Role of Attachment and Emotion Regulation in the Psychosocial Intervention Among War-Affected Children. Journ Child Adol Trauma 10, 301–314 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-016-0115-y

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Keywords

  • War trauma
  • Psychosocial intervention
  • Attachment style
  • Emotion regulation
  • Palestinians