Attachment and reactions to trauma in children and adolescents

Cushing, Toby (2020) Attachment and reactions to trauma in children and adolescents. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Background: Research conducted within adult samples demonstrates an association between insecure attachment and increased posttraumatic stress symptoms. Such relationships have been examined in children and adolescents, though to a lesser extent and findings are equivocal. Furthermore, there are few studies examining how attachment moderates the relation between adverse childhood experiences and mental health.

Methods: This thesis consists of a meta-analytic review and an empirical study. The meta-analytic review conducted a comprehensive literature review to synthesise studies reporting effect sizes of the relation between attachment and posttraumatic stress within child and adolescent samples. The empirical study examined moderating effects of infant attachment security on the relation between childhood adversity during sixth grade (aged approximately 11-12 years) and mental health outcomes at 15 years using data from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Results: Results of the review demonstrate a significant negative correlation between secure attachment and PTSS (r = -.16) and a significant positive correlation between insecure attachment (r = .26). Results of the empirical study indicate a positive association between adverse relational experiences and internalising and externalising problems. Attachment security did not account for any additional variance in symptom-reporting. Infant attachment security did not moderate the relationship between adverse relational experiences during sixth grade and mental health outcomes at 15 years.

Conclusions: Infant attachment security may not be a great risk factor for adolescent internalising and externalising problems, however, attachment during childhood and adolescence may be relevant in the development of posttraumatic stress.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2020 11:43
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2020 11:43

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