206609 Risky Buisness: Children At-Risk for Developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 5:15 PM

Kristin Lauren Hunt , Department of Psychology, Howard University, Washington, DC
Patricia Martens, PhD , Family Center, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, MD
Harolyn Belcher, MD , Kennedy Krieger Family Center/Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatrics, Kennedy Krieger Insitute, Baltimore, MD
Age, gender, parent mental illness, parent substance abuse, and experiencing interpersonal trauma are associated with child Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Little is known about PTSD in African American children. This study examined associations between PTSD symptoms and gender, age, family context (parent mental illness and substance abuse), and interpersonal trauma (domestic violence, community violence, physical abuse, and sexual abuse) in an urban African American child sample. It was hypothesized that gender, age, family context and interpersonal traumas would be associated with PTSD symptoms, and that interpersonal traumas would be most strongly associated with PTSD symptoms. Participants were 191 children (60.2% female), 8-17 years (X=11.8, SD=2.4), receiving psychological services at an urban mental health center specializing in treating traumatized children. Demographic, family (caregiver report), and trauma (child and caregiver report) data were collected through intake interviews. Child self-reports of PTSD symptoms were measured using UCLA-PTSD Severity scores and Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC) PTS t-scores. Gender, domestic violence, community violence, and physical abuse were significantly associated with UCLA-PTSD Severity scores (Beta=-6.82, p<.01; Beta=4.49, p<.05; Beta=5.41, p<.05; Beta=8.01, p<.01, respectively). Community violence and physical abuse were associated with TSSC-PTS t-scores (Beta=3.60, p<.05; Beta=3.81, p<.05, respectively). Patterns of association found in urban African American children vary based on PTSD measurement. Some similarities to prior research were found, yet sexual abuse and family contextual factors did not demonstrate associations with PTSD symptoms. Future research should create standardized PTSD measures for African American children and examine factors associated with their PTSD symptom development.

Learning Objectives:
Identify the factors that are predictive of PTSD symptom development in African American children. Analyze which of the emergent risk factors for PTSD are most highly associated with PTSD symptoms. Discuss how risk factors for PTSD may differentially affect non-European children.

Keywords: Child/Adolescent Mental Health, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am also currently being trained at Howard Universityís Clinical Psychology program. I chose to be trained at this institution because of the programís multicultural perspective and diverse faculty. Learning about psychopathology and child and adolescent mental health from a multicultural perspective has provided me with a wealth of literature to inform myself with as well as the opportunity to think deeply about these issues. I also have years of both clinical and research experience relevant to child and adolescent mental health, specifically trauma. I worked in a residential facility that housed a culturally diverse group of boys who had experienced maltreatment at the hands of their primary caregivers. I also worked as a crisis counselor prior to beginning my graduate training. Since beginning my graduate career I have gained more experience with therapy with children and adolescents of predominantly African descent. I believe that these experiences qualify me to carry out the current study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.