Worldwide one in three women report intimate partner violence. Many of these women report long term mental health problems, especially PTSD, which is associated with negative problem solving, isolation, somatization, depression, and anxiety. Children are impacted by their exposure to domestic violence and experience internal (i.e., depression, anxiety) and external (i.e., hostility, delinquency) behavioral clinical problems. To predict which women will experience chronic PTSD symptoms, a PTSD predictor tool was developed and applied to PTSD symptom scores four years after 300 mothers with children (age 18 months to 16 years) received assistance for the violence. At four years, 266 (89%) of the 300 mother child dyads were retained. Of those, 245 met inclusion criteria for this study and 53% had scores above the clinical threshold for PTSD. The predictor tool performed well. There was a significant association, χ2 (4) = 11.83, p =.019, Cramer's V = 0.229, between mothers predicted at low/some risk for chronic PTSD and scoring below the cut-off score for diagnostic PTSD symptoms at four years. Mothers predicted to be at extreme risk for chronic PTSD reported PTSD symptoms at or above the diagnostic level at 48 months. Children whose mothers had PTSD were at greater risk for Borderline/Clinical range behavioral problems compared to children whose mothers did not have PTSD. Relative risk values ranged from 2.07 (Externalizing) to 2.30 (Internalizing). When appropriate interventions are available, the PTSD predictor tool can assist with triage and guided referral of women at risk for chronic PTSD.
- Child behavior
- Posttraumatic stress disorder