Mediators and treatment factors in intervention for children exposed to interparental violence

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Abstract

Changes in children's emotion differentiation, coping skills, parenting stress, parental psychopathology, and parent–child interaction were explored as mediators of treatment factors in two selective preventive group interventions for children exposed to interparental violence (IPV) and their parents. One hundred thirty-four IPV-exposed children (ages 6–12 years, 52% boys) and their parents were randomized to an IPV-focused or common factors community-based group intervention and completed baseline, posttest, and follow-up assessments for posttraumatic stress (PTS). A multilevel model tested mediators that included children's ability to differentiate emotions and coping skills, parenting stress, parental psychopathology, and parent–child interactions. In both conditions, exposure to nonspecific factors, specific factors unrelated to IPV and trauma-specific intervention factors was coded from videotaped child and parent sessions. Improved parental mental health mediated the link between greater exposure to nonspecific treatment factors and decreases in PTS symptoms. In addition, an increase in emotion differentiation and a decrease in parenting stress were associated with a decrease in PTS symptoms. Greater exposure to trauma-specific factors in child sessions was associated with a small decrease in emotion differentiation, an increase in coping skills, and a decrease in PTS symptoms over time. Greater exposure to nonspecific treatment factors in child and parent sessions was associated with more positive parent–child interaction. Parental mental health appears to be an important mechanism of change that can be promoted through exposure to nonspecific factors in parent intervention. For children, the effect of greater exposure to trauma-specific factors in intervention is less clear and may not have clear benefits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-427
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Volume46
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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