Topic: Violence and abuse

Perceived social support and posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and youth in therapy: A parallel process latent growth curve model

Birkeland, M. S., Holt, T., Ormhaug, S. M., & Jensen, T. K. (2020). Perceived social support and posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and youth in therapy: A parallel process latent growth curve model. Behaviour Research and Therapy. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2020.103655

Many studies show that perceived social support protects against the
development of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in the aftermath of
trauma, but less is known about support in relation to PTSS in trauma
therapy. This study examined associations between perceived social
support and PTSS in children and adolescents during trauma therapy.
Parallel process latent growth curve modeling was used to examine
trajectories of perceived social support and PTSS over five measurement
waves in a sample of 156 patients, aged between 10 and 18 years (M age = 15.1, SD = 2.2,
79.5% girls), randomized to receive trauma-focused cognitive behavior
therapy (TF-CBT) or therapy-as-usual (TAU). Across all participants
there was an average decline in PTSS and increase of perceived social
support from pre-therapy to 18 months after therapy. Most of the change
occurred during therapy and was maintained after therapy. Higher levels
of PTSS prior to therapy were associated with lower levels of perceived
social support prior to therapy, and a decrease in PTSS was associated
with increase in perceived social support. This co-development may have
been directed by a third underlying factor or short-term temporal
effects. Studies investigating within-person associations over shorter
time intervals will benefit our understanding of possible temporal
effects.