The impact of parental posttraumatic stress disorder on parenting: A systematic review

Hope Christie, Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis, Filipa Alves-Costa, Mark Tomlinson, Sarah L. Halligan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious and debilitating disorder that can develop following exposure to a traumatic event. Where parents develop PTSD, it may have an impact on their parenting role. 

Objective: The objective was to review the existing evidence base on parental PTSD, examining whether parental PTSD has an impact on key parenting domains. 

Method: A comprehensive web-based search identified 27 quantitative studies that examined parental PTSD in relation to parenting domains. 

Results: Several parenting domains were investigated including: parenting satisfaction, parenting stress, the parent–child relationship, and specific parenting practices. Sample sizes ranged from 19 to 3931 parents. A range of parental traumas were investigated, including traumatic birth experiences, military trauma, and intimate partner violence. Findings indicated associations between parental PTSD and several domains of parenting, but there were inconsistencies across studies. 

Conclusions: Findings suggested that parental PTSD is associated with impaired functioning across a number of parenting domains, including increased levels of parenting stress, lower parenting satisfaction, less optimal parent–child relationships, and more frequent use of negative parenting practices, such as overt hostility and controlling behaviours. However, methodological limitations across the literature as a whole limited the potential to infer causal impacts of PTSD on parenting. Further study is also needed to advance our current understanding around the impact of different trauma types on parenting domains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1550345
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019


  • family
  • parenting
  • parent–child relationship
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • trauma


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