The association between child and parent psychiatric disorders in families exposed to flood and/or dioxin

Min Hyung Lee, Betty Pfefferbaum, Robert Portley, Vinay Kotamarti, Fatih Canan, Carol S. North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Associations of disaster mental health sequelae between children and their parents have been demonstrated, but not using full diagnostic assessment. This study examined children and their parents after a series of disasters in 1982 to investigate associations of their psychiatric outcomes. Members of 169 families exposed to floods and/or dioxin or no disaster were assessed in 1986–1987 with structured diagnostic interviews. This vintage dataset collected several decades ago provides new information to this field because of the methodological rigor that is unparalleled in this literature. Disaster-related PTSD and incident postdisaster disorders in children were associated, respectively with disaster-related PTSD and incident postdisaster disorders in the chief caregiver and mother. More flood-only than dioxin-only exposed parents reported great harm by the disaster, but neither children nor parents in these two groups differed in incident psychiatric disorders. Although this study did not determine the direction of causal influences, its findings suggest that clinicians working with disaster-exposed families should work with children and adult members together, as their mental health outcomes may be intertwined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number46
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Child
  • Disaster
  • Family
  • PTSD
  • Structured diagnostic interview

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Development
  • Genetics
  • Psychology(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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