Intergenerational transmission of post-traumatic stress disorder in Australian Vietnam veterans’ families
O’toole, B., Burton, M., Rothwell, A., Outram, S., Dadds, M., & Catts, S. (2017). Intergenerational transmission of post-traumatic stress disorder in Australian Vietnam veterans’ families. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 135, 363-372.
Objective: To assess the association between parental post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and offspring PTSD and its specificity for other disorders in a non-clinical epidemiological cohort of Australian Vietnam veterans, their partners and their sons and daughters.
Method: Veterans were interviewed twice, in 1992-1994 and 2005-2006; partners were interviewed in 2006-2007, and their offspring in 2012-2014. A total of 125 sons and 168 daughters were interviewed from 197 families, 137 of which also included partners who were the mothers of the children. Statistical analysis used multi-level modelling to compute odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals while controlling for clustering effects within families. Parent PTSD diagnoses were examined for associations with offspring trauma exposure, PTSD and other psychiatric diagnoses.
Results: Veteran PTSD increased the risk of PTSD and no other disorder in both sons and daughters; partner PTSD did not. Veteran depression was also a risk factor for sons’ PTSD, and alcohol disorder was linked to alcohol dependence in sons and PTSD in daughters, but not when controlling for veteran PTSD.
Conclusion: We conclude that PTSD in a Vietnam veteran father increases the risk specifically for PTSD in his sons and daughters.