The impact of childhood adversities on the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Northern Ireland population

Margaret McLafferty*, Siobhan O'Neill, Cherie Armour, Sam Murphy, Finola Ferry, Brendan Bunting

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Research suggests that childhood adversities are key etiological factors in the onset and persistence of many psychological disorders. Intra-familial adversities in particular have been found to increase the propensity to develop PTSD.

The main aims of this study were to examine the prevalence of childhood adversities in Northern Ireland (NI) and the influence various childhood adversities may have on the development of PTSD, while also considering demographic variables and the impact of the protracted period of civil conflict in NI, known as the Troubles.

The study examined data obtained from the Northern Ireland Study of Health and Stress (NISHS), a collaborative epidemiological study with a response rate of 68.4%. The NISHS used the WMH-CIDI to survey a nationally representative sample of 4,340 participants. Part 2, of the survey was utilised in the current study (n = 1,986).

Childhood adversities involving parental maladjustment, maltreatment and economic adversity were significantly associated with PTSD in the NI population, with the number of adversities experienced having a considerable impact. Females and those exposed to the Troubles also had an increased risk of lifetime PTSD.

The study allows for comparisons with other countries participating in the World Mental Health Survey Initiative and provides important information for policy makers and practice. Identifying areas for prevention and intervention may help reduce the detrimental impact of childhood adversities on psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-141
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Trauma and Dissociation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 08 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood Adversities
  • Conflict
  • Northern Ireland
  • PTSD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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