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J Interpers Violence. 2011 Dec;26(18):3699-719. doi: 10.1177/0886260511403747.

The relationship of violent fathers, posttraumatically stressed mothers and symptomatic children in a preschool-age inner-city pediatrics clinic sample.

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Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University Hospitals of Geneva, 51 Boulevard de la Cluse, Geneva, Switzerland.


This study aims to understand if greater severity of maternal posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), related to maternal report of interpersonal violence, mediates the effects of such violence on (a) child PTSS as well as on (b) child externalizing and internalizing symptoms. Study participants were mothers (N = 77) and children 18 to 48 months recruited from community pediatric clinics. Data were analyzed continuously via bivariate correlations and then multiple linear regression. Post hoc Sobel tests were performed to confirm mediation. Paternal violence accounted for 15% of the variance of child PTSS on the PCIP-OR (β = .39, p ≤ .001). While the child's father being violent significantly predicts child PTSS related to domestic violence, as mentioned, when maternal PTSS is included in the multiple regression model, father's being violent becomes less significant, while maternal PTSS remains strongly predictive. Sobel tests confirmed that maternal PTSS severity mediated effects of paternal violence on clinician-assessed child PTSS as well as on maternal report of child externalizing and internalizing symptoms. When presented with a preschool-aged child who is brought to consultation for behavioral difficulties, dysregulated aggression, and/or unexplained fears, clinicians should evaluate maternal psychological functioning as well as assess and treat the effects of interpersonal violence, which otherwise may be avoided during the consultation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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