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Fifteen Years After Parental Divorce: Mental Health and Experienced Life Events

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Journal Critique

Fifteen years after parental divorce

Troy S. Holley Sr.

Fifteen years after parental divorce: mental health

and experienced life- events

Angarne-Lindberg T, Wadsby M. Divorce, mental health and life events.

Nord J Psychiatry 2009;63:32-43. Oslo

Children who experience parental divorce at a early age have shown to be the group that suffers the most in most studies, but gender differences also make up the study of how men and women are affected by their parents divorce. Divorce is, however, not an isolated event. There are events directly connected to the divorce, but there are also other important life events.

The aim of the study was to investigate if adults who had experienced parental divorce fifteen years before the time of the study, differed in mental health from those with continuously married parents, taking into account life events other than the divorce.

Introduction and Hypothesis

Research about the consequences of parental divorce has provided conflicting findings, some reporting increased risks concerning lowered psychological and social well-being and lower educational attainment.

1. Studies from Finland, Norway, and Britain point to the long -term effects of

parental divorce as being stronger among females than males considering psycho

somatic symptons, prevelance of depression, minor psychiatric disturbance and


2. Other studies suggest that boys are more susceptible than girls to disturbances in

in life such as divorce, and there are studies that show minimal or no gender


3. Thus most studies find equally negative effects for both younger and older chil-

dren. It has been proposed that younger children may be more seriously affec-

ted by divorce than older.

4. Consequently, it can be stated that studies to date have shown varying affects

of parental related to the circumstances mentioned above, and related gender

and age.

5. The aim of the present investigation was to study the mental health of a group

of children, today adults, who in the majority of cases were studied 15 years a-

go at the time of their parents divorce , taking into consideration life events of

both positive and negative nature, in addition to the divorce event itself,

might influenced their mental health.



125 persons formed the divorced group, of which 76 agreed to participate in the study. Of the participants (42 were women and 34 were men).

49 persons (24 women and 25 men) did not participate. Reason for this were that two of the children's parents were remarried, 14 could not be reached and 33 declined to take part in the study.

125 persons formed also the non-divorce group, of which 63 agreed to participate in the study


The study used the Sympton Checklist(SCL-90) measuring mental health and the Life Event Questionnaire capturing the number and experience of occured events.

Three global indicies of psychological disturbance are also used: Global Severity Index(GSI), Positive Symptom Distress Index(PSDI), and the Positive Symptom Total(PST)(Tables 1 and 2a and 2b).

The instrument is standardized for the Swedish population, and it has been tested for validity and reliability with satisfactory outcome.


The divorce group was first sent an introductory letter with information about the study and with a request for participation. The non-divorce group got a letter with information about the study and how they had been selected for the study as well. Both groups were informed that we were going to call them within a few days after they had received the letter, to ask them if they wanted further information, and to get their consent to participate in the study.





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