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Attach Hum Dev. 2016;18(1):69-89. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2015.1113305. Epub 2015 Nov 25.

The transmission of trauma in refugee families: associations between intra-family trauma communication style, children's attachment security and psychosocial adjustment.

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a Department of Psychology , University of Copenhagen , Copenhagen , Denmark.
b Psychology Department , School of Social Sciences, City University London , London , UK.
c DIGNITY-Danish Institute Against Torture , Copenhagen , Denmark.


This study explores the transmission of trauma in 30 Middle Eastern refugee families in Denmark, where one or both parents were referred for treatment of PTSD symptoms and had non-traumatized children aged 4-9 years. The aim of the study was to explore potential risk and protective factors by examining the association between intra-family communication style regarding the parents' traumatic experiences from the past, children's psychosocial adjustment and attachment security. A negative impact of parental trauma on children might be indicated, as children's Total Difficulties Scores on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) were significantly higher than the Danish norms. A negative association between children's attachment security as measured by the Attachment and Traumatization Story Task and higher scores on the SDQ Total Difficulties Scale approached significance, suggesting that the transmission of trauma may be associated with disruptions in children's attachment representations. Furthermore a significant association between parental trauma communication and children's attachment style was found.


Transgenerational transmission of trauma; attachment security; intra-family trauma communication; mental health; refugee children

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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