The influence of social support on posttraumatic stress symptoms among children and adolescents: a scoping review and meta-analysis

European Journal of Psychotraumatology - Journal Article

Several risk and protective factors play a role in the development of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in children and youth. The evidence for social support (SS) as a protective factor is rising; however, a review of the evidence is lacking.|This scoping review and meta-analysis aims to map out and synthesize the present research on the influence of social support on PTSS in children and adolescents.|The literature searched through PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, PsycInfo, and CINAHL identified 3629 abstracts. Ninety articles published from 1999 to 2020 were selected, including a total of 77,439 participants.|Most papers focused on social and emotional support from family members (36/88) and peers (26/88); other types of support (e.g., informational support and support from professionals) were not widely reported. The cross-sectional studies illustrated an overall significant, but weak, negative correlation between global social support and PTSS. A similar weak negative association was found between family support and PTSS. The association between peer support and PTSS was not significant. For longitudinal studies, 4 of 5 indicated that SS was a significant negative predictor of PTSS.|There was conceptual, methodological, and statistical heterogeneity of the identified studies. This review suggests a weak negative relationship between global SS and PTSS in children and adolescents. Higher global SS was related to less PTSS. The evidence regarding family support revealed a more stable negative relationship with PTSS than that for peer support. Investigating social support without specifying the form of support confounds the effect. Studies on informational, teacher, or professional support seem to be lacking. More studies are needed on the longitudinal effects of SS on PTSS.

Extra: Edition: 20220322

T. Xiong, A. Milios, P. J. McGrath, E. Kaltenbach
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