Background and aims. Following disasters, children can use a large variety of coping strategies to feel better. There is a growing body of studies on the relation between such strategies and children’s adjustment, considering negative symptomatology or positive indicators of development. Yet, these constructs are studied separately, leaving the field with a fragmented understanding of their relation. We synthesized the body of research on disaster-related coping strategies with children through a meta-analytic approach. We aimed at assessing the mean correlation between several coping strategies (Zimmer-Gembeck & Skinner, 2011) and positive and negative outcomes following disasters. Methods. We used PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Scopus, ERIC, and PubMed databases to identify articles on natural and technological disasters published to date, applying the following filters: participants younger than 18 years at the disaster, peer-review, English as publication language. Inclusion criteria regarded investigating the relation between at least one coping strategy and at least one indicator of negative symptomatology (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, depression; 14 studies; 9,028 participants) or positive development (e.g., self-efficacy, emotion understanding; 8 studies; 3,540 participants). For each one, we studied separately the effect of strategy type (problem solving, escape, self-reliance, support, accommodation) using a random effect model. Results. For negative indicators, even if there was a global positive significant correlation (r = .09, p = .008), the relation was significant only for escape (r = .26, p < .001). For positive indicators, the global correlation was not significant, but there were significant positive correlations for problem-solving (r = .24, p < .001) and support (r = .23, p = .070). High heterogeneity between studies was found, except than for support. Conclusions. Our findings are a first step to deepen theoretical knowledge on the efficacy of disaster-related coping strategies, in order to inform intervention programs for helping children before and after disasters.
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