Prevalence and Characteristics in Children, Parents and Grandparents After Emotional Family Violence: A Meta-Analytical Approach


Relevance of the Topic – Current Situation – Challenge – Purpose of the Study: As consequence of separation and divorce, the annual rate of affected children in Germany is calculated as to be as high as 160.000-200.000. Various German and international studies revealed a percentage of up to 70%, in which children lost one parent either substantially or totally, associated with a significant psychosomatic morbidity rate comparable with the one after death of a parent, most recently been reported by Meland et al. (2019). As of now, all over Germany a very heterogeneous procedure after separation and divorce concerning all involved actors led to very heterogeneous outcomes especially with focus on the children´s way ahead, while the role of emotional family violence has only sporadically been investigated. Therefore, the purpose of the presented meta-analysis was to provide an update on studies focusing on the health status of children, but also of parents and grand-parents exposed to emotional family violence to estimate the overall relevance and develop strategies to better prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Material/Methods: All world-wide published (1970-2020) and listed larger studies focusing on morbidity after child abuse with special focus on emotional family violence were screened and assessed with special focus on prevalence and characteristics of psycho-somatic symptoms and prognostic factors. A limited number of studies with appropriate study groups sizes and study designs was found at least covering the morbidity situation in children, why the number of studies on parents and grand-parents was extremely limited. Results: A considerably high prevalence was found in all studies primarily consisting of depressions, inferior self-awareness, eating disorders, cognitive deficits and diminished stress tolerance. Also, the social behaviour was considerably impaired including increased aggression with up to criminal activities, Also, patterns of reinsceneration of own childhood biography of emotional family violence was frequently reported. Conclusion: Exposure to emotional family violence clearly leads to a higher prevalence of psycho-somatic symptoms in children. The study situation on the health status of parents and grand-parents is very limited, however also shows significant symptoms resembling the portfolio of symptoms reported in children. In many cases the work strength is considerably limited up to early retirement due to constant high stress levels. The health-related burden to the overall society including also the socio-economic consequences are assessed to be highly relevant. However, larger studies are required to obtain further details of this highly relevant topic.


Bernd Evers, MD

Dr. Evers is a German board certified General and Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon with more than 20 years of national and international experience as clinician, researcher, lecturer, and author with main focus on trauma. During the last decade, he primarily focused on strategic medical advising in conflict prevention and resolution within the area of NATO and EU. Since 2018 Dr. Evers centered his activities on research and score development in the field of child protection and abuse also starting to act as guardian ad litem and advisor in family court proceedings.