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“They had clothes on their back and they had food in their stomach, but they didn't have me”: The contribution of parental mental health problems, substance use, and domestic violence and abuse on young people and parents

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon BarrettORCiD, Dr Cassey Muir, Professor Eileen KanerORCiD, Dr Ruth McGovernORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2024 The AuthorsBackground: The parental risk factors of mental health problems, substance use, and domestic violence and abuse each individually negatively impacts children's health and developmental outcomes. Few studies have considered the lived experience and support needs of parents and children in the real-world situation where these common risks cluster. Objective: This study explores parents' and young people's lived experiences of the clustering of parental mental health problems, parental substance use, and domestic violence and abuse. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 mothers, 6 fathers, and 7 young people with experiences of these parental risk factors. Transcribed interviews were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results: Four themes were developed, 1) cumulative adversity, 2) the impact of syndemic risk, 3) families navigating risk, and 4) family support. Parents and young people described family situations of stress wherein they experienced cumulative impact of multiple parental risk factors. Parents sought to navigate stressors and parent in positive ways under challenging conditions, often impeded by their own childhood trauma and diminished confidence. Parents and young people spoke of the need for, and benefits of having, support; both as a family and as individuals, to successfully address this trio of parental risks and the related impact. Conclusions: This study highlights the high level of stress families experience and the efforts they go to mitigate risk. Services and interventions need to reflect the complexity of multiple needs and consider both the whole family and individuals when providing support.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kedzior SGE, Barrett S, Muir C, Lynch R, Kaner E, Forman JR, Wolfe I, McGovern R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Child Abuse and Neglect

Year: 2024

Volume: 149

Print publication date: 01/03/2024

Online publication date: 04/01/2024

Acceptance date: 14/12/2023

Date deposited: 24/01/2024

ISSN (print): 0145-2134

ISSN (electronic): 1873-7757

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2023.106609

PubMed id: 38181566


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