Influence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder of the Fathers on other Family MembersInfluence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder of the Fathers on other Family Members

  • Amra Zalihić Department of Family medicine, Health Care Center Mostar
  • Dino Zalihić General Hospital Mostar
  • Gordana Pivić Department of Family Medicine, Health Care Center Mostar
Keywords: family, PTSD, war, family health, parent-child relations


The purpose of this work is to analyze the frequency of depression and anxiety and children behaviour in families whose heads of the family (father) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study was conducted from September 2005 until July 2006, with patients living in Mostar. The frequency of depression and anxiety in family members older than 18 years, and changes of the behaviour in children younger than 18 years of age were measured. The data were collected from 60 men and their families who had been diagnosed with PTSD by their psychiatrist. The control group was formed using matching criteria (age of the head of the family, his education, religion, family income and number of children). In this study, three questionnaires were used: one specially designed for this study, covering general information about family members, and a personal opinion of each family member about the family situation and relations within the family; Hopkins symptoms checklist - 25 (HSCL-25) for evaluation of depression and anxiety for subjects older than 18; and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) for children 5 to 18 years of age, which was completed by their mothers.

More wives from the PTSD families had depression than wives from the controlled group (χ2=21,099; df=1; P<0,050). There was no difference between groups in frequency of depression and anxiety (χ2=0,003; df=1; P=0,959) for children older than 18 years. No difference in answers between groups of children younger than 18 years were found in the General Health Questionnaire. However, we found significant differences in separate questions. Mothers, who filled the questionnaire form, reported that children from fathers who had PTSD experienced stomach pain more often (χ2=10,474;df=2; P=0,005), eating problems (χ2=14,204;df=2; P=0,001) and breathing problems (χ2=9,748;df=2; P=0,008), than children from fathers who did not have PTSD. Children from fathers with PTSD were more easily upset (χ2=7,586; df=2; P=0,023) and worried more often (χ2=12,093; df=2; P=0,002), they were also more aggressive towards other children (χ2=6,156; df=1; P=0,013). The controlled group of children who wanted to help with the house work was larger than the tested group (χ2=10,383; df=2; P=0,006). More children from the controlled group missed school than from the other group of surveyed children (χ2=6,056; df=2; P=0,048).

A significantly larger number of women, whose husbands had PTSD, were depressed, unlike women whose husbands were not ill. There was no significant difference in depression manifestation in a group of children older than 18, as well as in behaviour of a group of children younger than 18, but significant differences in some provided answers were found, that indicate the differences between controlled and tested groups.


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Zalihić A, Zalihić D, Pivić G. Influence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder of the Fathers on other Family MembersInfluence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder of the Fathers on other Family Members. Bosn J of Basic Med Sci [Internet]. 2008Feb.20 [cited 2019Nov.18];8(1):20-6. Available from:
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