Ting Xiong, Patrick J. McGrath, Sherry H. Stewart, Alexa Bagnell & Elisa Kaltenbach (2022) Risk and protective factors for posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth in parents of children with intellectual and developmental disorders, European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 13:1, 2087979, DOI: 10.1080/20008198.2022.2087979
Background: Parents of children with intellectual and developmental disorders often experience potentially traumatic events while caring for their children. Heightened posttraumatic stress (PTS) and posttraumatic growth (PTG) have been found in this population. Objective: We aimed to explore risk and protective factors for their PTS and PTG.
Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted with 385 parents (average age M = 43.14 years, SD = 7.40; 95.3% mothers).
Results: Parenting trauma showed an adverse effect on developing PTS (beta = 0.25, p < .01) and a positive role in promoting PTG (beta = 0.16, p < .01). Social support was protective in its correlation with lower levels of PTS (beta = −0.12, p < .01) and higher levels of PTG (beta = 0.22, p < .01). Barriers to care were associated with increased PTS (beta = 0.23, p < .01), but unrelated to PTG (beta = .01, p = .855). Negative parenting showed a significant, but small, correlation with more severe PTS (beta = 0.11, p < .05), and was unrelated to PTG (beta = −0.09, p = .065).
Conclusions: Our study increases the understanding of posttraumatic reactions in parents, predominantly mothers, of children with IDD and identified parenting-related trauma, social support, and barriers to mental health care as predictive factors of the reactions. More research is needed to confirm and validate the effects of the discussed factors. Although causation can not be inferred, prompt and adequate screening and therapeutic resources should be provided to those mothers who were exposed to multiple stressful caregiving events and had limited healthcare access and less support from their spouses, peers, and caregiving partners.