Childhood maltreatment in adult offspring of Portuguese war veterans with and without PTSD.

Aida Dos Santos Dias, L. Sales, R. M. Cardoso, Rolf Kleber

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The colonial war that Portugal was involved in between 1961 and 1974 had a significant impact on veterans and their families. However, it is unclear what the consequences of this war are, in particular with regard to levels of childhood maltreatment (CM) in offspring.


Our study aims to analyze the influences of fathers' war exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on the offspring's CM and simultaneously test the hypothesis of the intergenerational transmission of father-child CM.


Cross-sectional data were collected, using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-Short Form, from 203 adult children and 117 fathers. Subjects were distributed according to three conditions based on the father's war exposure status: did not participate in war, or non-war-exposed (NW); participated in war, or war-exposed (W); and war-exposed with PTSD diagnosis (WP). The data were examined using correlations, variance/covariance, and regression analyses.


Children of war veterans with PTSD reported more emotional and physical neglect, while their fathers reported increased emotional and physical abuse exposure during their own childhood. Significant father-child CM correlations were found in the war veteran group but less in the war veteran with PTSD group. Father CM predicted 16% of offspring CM of children of war veterans.


The father's war-related PTSD might be a risk factor for offspring neglect but potentially a protective one for the father-child abuse transmission. War-exposed fathers without PTSD did transmit their own CM experiences more often. Therefore, father's war exposure and father's war PTSD may each be important variables to take into account in the study of intergenerational transmission of CM
Original languageEnglish
Article number20198
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2014


  • abuse
  • PTSD
  • Portugal
  • intergenerational transmission
  • neglect
  • offspring
  • war


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