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Prof Alan Stein and colleagues examined the impact of PTSD on children whose fathers had been in the armed forces.

Military father and child

Little is known about the social and emotional well-being of children whose fathers have been deployed to the conflicts in Iraq/Afghanistan or who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A team of researchers at the Universities of Oxford, Kings College London, University College London, Queen’s University, Canada and Imperial College, London, wanted to examine the emotional and behavioural well-being of children whose fathers are or have been in the UK armed forces, in particular the effects of paternal deployment to the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan and paternal PTSD.

Fathers who had taken part in a large tri-service cohort and had children aged 3–16 years were asked about the emotional and behavioural well-being of their child(ren) and assessed for symptoms of PTSD via online questionnaires and telephone interview. In total, 621 (67%) fathers participated, providing data on 1044 children.

The results of their study -  ‘Impact of paternal deployment to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and paternal post-traumatic stress disorder on the children of military fathers’ were recently published in The British Journal of Psychiatry.

The researchers found that paternal deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan was not associated with childhood emotional and behavioural difficulties. However, paternal probable PTSD was associated with child hyperactivity. This finding was limited to boys and those under 11 years of age.

This study shows that adverse childhood emotional and behavioural well-being was not associated with paternal deployment but was associated with paternal probable PTSD.

Read the full paper in The British Journal of Psychiatry.