Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

Table of Contents


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder, which can be viewed as a response to such traumatic events as witnessing or committing homicide, surviving pain, tortures, or extremely harsh physical conditions. The present paper is designed to review three research articles, which explore different sides of PTSD.

The first article, prepared by Barakat and Wodka (2006), is dedicated to studying Posttraumatic stress disorder in college students with chronic illness. The authors hypothesize that the development of PTSD depends in youth upon the perceived life threat and treatment intensity. The sample was composed of 195 students with chronic illness aged 18 or older, enrolled in psychology courses. 49.2 percent of participants were male; by ethnic background, 62.3 percent were Caucasian, 6.6 percent- African American, 16.4 percent Asian, and 15.7 – Other. According to the article, “They experienced the following types of illness: 39.3% pulmonary (e.g., asthma), 21.3% migraine/headache, 13.1% gastrointestinal (e.g., Crohn’s disease), 9.8% chronic fatigue, 8.2% orthopedic problems, and 8.3% other” (Barakat & Wodka, 2006, p.1000).

Main body

The study was descriptive by type and correlational by the set of methods the authors used. Measurements were made using the Life Experiences Survey and Life Orientation Test, which allowed defining the number and depth of stressful events and participants’ attitudes towards them. The independent variable was the chronic illness, whereas the dependent variables included anxiety and life orientation (or optimism), were the sum of life events (stressors) and illness-specific appraisal, or degree of perceived threat, deriving from the illness which, as the authors believed, correlated with the number of stresses in life history and seriousness of the disease. The results suggest that about 26 percent of participants met four out of five criteria for PTSD, that students with a larger number of life stresses reported higher levels of anxiety and that optimism and life orientation negatively contributed to the development of PTSD. The article seemed to be interesting given that it actually provides enough space for practical recommendations concerning the involvement of chronically ill students and allows adding changes to college counseling practice, so student relations specialists in higher education institutions pay more attention to the precise needs of students with chronic diseases.

The article by Tatano investigates the prevalence of PTSD in pregnant women and it is hypothesized that unexpected and traumatic medical procedures increase the likelihood of PTSD. The author employs a case study as a method, so the article includes two detailed descriptions of pregnant women’s cases, selected against the following criterion: the author studied from multiple sources the histories of two pregnant women, who were diagnosed with PTSD during pregnancy. Therefore, the study was descriptive by type.

The independent characteristics, as one can assume, were pregnancy and PTSD, whereas the dependent characteristics were complications and medical interventions during pregnancy. In order to draw the relationship between the variables, the researcher carefully scrutinized case histories and found out that in the first situation, the woman aged 47 had fears associated with the possible stillbirth and underwent a number of pregnancy-saving interventions, including embryo reduction (removal of one embryo, as she had twins). The second participant, age 40, was also fertilized in vitro and underwent fetus reduction, so she developed a similar fear of the Caesarean procedure. The article seemed interesting given that I already researched the issue of pregnancy and postnatal disorders, but rarely met such precise explanations of PTSD in pregnant women, so the study is to a certain degree pioneering.

The paper by Stallard, Velleman, and Baldwin focuses on the development of PTSD in children who experienced road traffic accidents. The research group hypothesized that PTSD prevailed in at least 30 percent of children, who survived an accident, that girls were more likely to endure the mental health problem, and that the disruptive effects on child psyche of road traffic accidents were higher than those of other injuries. The study involved 119 underage accident survivors and 66 children, who endured a sports injury, so the authors used to experiment as a method. As the article states, “The experimental group consisted of children and young people aged 5-18 years who attended the accident and emergency department at the Royal United Hospital, Bath” (Stallard, Velleman & Baldwin, 1998, p.1620). The experiment lasted 12 months and involved regular mental health assessments of children from the two groups.


The independent variables included gender, the facts of surviving a traffic accident or a sports injury, the dependent variables included the presence of PTSD as well as anxiety or depression. Logically, the three dependent variables were measured in relationship with either a traffic accident or a sports trauma experienced. The results suggest that only 3 percent of children with sports injuries met all criteria for PTSD, as compared to 36 percent prevalence among the survivors of road accidents. 55 percent of those, diagnosed with PTSD, were girls, they also showed higher levels of anxiety and depression post-factum. I selected this article, due to the fact that it described quite a common problem, the involvement of children in road accidents, which, as one can conclude, have severe effects on the survivors’ mental health.


Barakat, L & Wodka, E. (2006). Posttraumatic stress symptoms in college students with a chronic illness. Social Behavior and Personality, 34 (8), 999-1006.

Stallard, P., Velleman, R. & Baldwin, S. (1998). Prospective study of post-traumatic stress-disorder in children involved in road traffic accidents. BMJ, 317, 1619-1623.

Tatano, C. (2006). Post-Traumatic stress disorder in pregnancy. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 2, 172-179.