Post-Disaster Mental Health Among Parent–Child Dyads After a Major Earthquake in Indonesia
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The interdependent adjustment of children and their parents following disasters has been well documented. We used the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) to provide an appropriate analytical framework for examining how family members may contribute to each other’s post-disaster mental health. Independent self-reports were collected from parent–child dyads (n = 397) residing in a rural community in Indonesia that was devastated by a major earthquake. Elementary school children (M = 10 years; 51 % female) and one of their parents (M = 41 years; 73 % female) each reported on their disaster exposure, posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, and general distress. The APIM was used to examine mental health within dyads and moderation by gender across dyads. Children reported lower disaster exposure and fewer PTS symptoms, but similar general distress levels, as their parents. Children’s and parents’ disaster-specific PTS symptoms were the strongest predictor of their own general distress. Parents’ PTS symptoms were associated with children’s general distress (b = 0.14, p < 0.001), but children’s PTS symptoms were not associated with parents’ general distress (b = −0.02, p > 0.05). Findings were not moderated by parents’ or children’s gender. Although children and parents may respond differently to natural disasters, they may be best understood as a dyad. APIM analyses provide new evidence suggesting a unidirectional path of influence from parents’ disaster-related symptomatology to children’s general mental health. Dyadic approaches to understanding mental health and treating symptoms of distress among disaster survivors and their families following trauma are encouraged.
KeywordsParent–child dyads Posttraumatic stress Distress Trauma exposure Natural disaster
This project was designed, developed and funded by Psychology Beyond Borders, Austin, Texas. Vanessa Juth was supported by a T32 award [UL1 RR031985] from the Institute of Clinical and Translational Science at the University of California, Irvine, which was made possible through a grant [UL1 TR000153] from the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
We thank Toula Skiadas from Psychology Beyond Borders for her invaluable assistance throughout this project and the research team from Universitas Sanata Dharma who assisted with data collection, including Elisabeth Haksi Mayawati, Santa Evelin Sitepu, Krisna Novian Prabandaru, Sasmito Adi Singowidjojo, Agung Sudarmanto, Nines Resiska Sukmawati, Ignatius Krisna Susantyo, and Oktavia Zamharin.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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