Charles Ingabire,1 Lauren Ng,2 Catherine Kirk,2 Vincent Sezibera,3 Theresa Betancourt3-4
1 Partners in Health Rwanda – Inshuti Mu Buzima, Rwinkwavu, Rwanda
2 Francois Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Boston, USA
3 National University of Rwanda, Butare, Rwanda
4 Department Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA
Background: Families and communities often provide primary support to children who have experienced upsetting events. This may be particularly true in Rwanda where families face multiple stressors and mental health services are limited. This study analyzes the relationship between parenting and social support on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in children who experienced potentially traumatic events in Rwanda.
Methods: 681 HIV+, HIV-affected, and non-HIV-affected children aged 10-18, were interviewed (51.5% female, mean age 13.6). Children verbally completed the UCLA PTSD-RI assessing PTSD symptoms and upsetting events. Multiple linear regressions were run in which reporting an upsetting event and locally-adapted measures of parenting and social support predicted PTSD symptoms, after controlling for sex, age, and HIV stratification.
Results: 64.1% of children reported an event that continues to upset them. PTSD symptoms ranged from 0 to 22 (mean 7.23); only 17.7% reported no symptoms. Parenting and social support negatively predicted PTSD symptoms while age and reporting an upsetting event positively predicted symptoms (all p<.01).
Conclusions: Good parenting and social support may reduce PTSD symptoms in children who have experienced upsetting events. Interventions that strengthen parents, families, and communities may help children cope with multiple adversities.