Mother and Child Reports of Hurricane Related Stressors: Data from a Sample of Families Exposed to Hurricane Katrina

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BACKGROUND: Families exposed to disasters such as Hurricane Katrina are at risk for numerous adverse outcomes. While previous literature suggests that the degree of disaster exposure corresponds with experiencing negative outcomes, it is unclear if parents and children report similar levels of disaster exposure. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this paper was to examine levels of disaster stressor agreement among mother-child dyads affected by Hurricane Katrina, and to examine whether discrepancies in disaster stressor reports are associated with higher levels of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms. METHODS: Participants in this study consisted of 353 dyads of mothers (age = 38.79 years, = 7.52; 68% African American) and children (52% girls; age = 11.61 years, = 1.57) exposed to Hurricane Katrina. Parents and children were assessed at two timepoints, 3 - 7 months and 14 - 17 months postdisaster. Parent and child responses to items regarding hurricane related stressor exposure and PTS symptoms were analyzed. RESULTS: Agreement on hurricane related exposures was predominately slight to moderate, with kappas ranging from = .19 to = .83. Polynomial regression analyses revealed that when mothers reported low levels of Immediate Loss/Disruption stressors and children reported high levels of these stressors, children reported higher levels of Time 2 PTS symptoms, = -.72 (.33), = .03. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, levels of mother-child response agreement were low. Discrepancies in mother and child reports predicted higher levels of child PTS symptoms. Clinicians may want to query both parents and children about their disaster experiences when working with families postdisaster.

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Child & youth care forum

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