Trauma Characteristics and Risk Factors of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Children and Adolescents

Document Type : Systematic Review


1 Department of Education and Counseling, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Central Branch, Tehran, Iran

2 Trauma Research Center, Clinical Sciences Institute, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.



Introduction: Exposure to traumatic occurrences followed by intrusive thoughts is Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Children and adolescents may experience this disease differently. This study aimed to assess trauma characteristics and risk factors related to PTSD in children and adolescents.
Methods: We searched online databases such as Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar from April 2013 to May 2023. Two authors separately screened, assessed, and included the studies, and senior reviewers resolved disagreement. This systematic review evaluated factors for PTSD in children and adolescent patients aged 6 to 18 years. Sample size, trauma type, severity, risk factors measure of PTSD, sex, age, and study location were included.
Results: Risk factors for PTSD can be divided into pre-, peri-, and post-trauma risk factors. Pre-trauma factors include sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and age. Per traumatic had the severity of the trauma, being trapped during the trauma, cumulative exposure to potentially traumatic experiences, dissociation, sexual abuse, being injured, witnessing injury or death, and bereavement. Post-trauma risk factors included low social support, peri-trauma fear, perceived life threats, social withdrawal, comorbid psychological problems, low-income family, distraction, PTSD at time 1, and thought suppression.
Conclusion: Characteristics such as the trauma severity or exposure level consistently can anticipate following PTSD levels. Risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing PTSD. There are concerns that someone with risk factors may develop PTSD, so it is essential to seek professional help. A mental health professional can assess your symptoms and provide treatment options. Classifying PTSD based on the type of trauma, the location, and the relationship with PTSD requires further studies.


Main Subjects