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Research Area


Our research in this area is wide-ranging. We have a strong focus on measurement tools for assessing children, as well as studies regarding abuse in childhood. In addition, we also do research in trauma-focused treatment and collaborate with the Danish children's homes.

Childhood traumas are one of the oldest and central themes in psychopathology.

Otto Rank (1884-1939) even believed that birth was the child's first traumatic experience. The theory was strongly criticised, but Rank's point that the body 'remembers' violent sensory impressions was not lost and is now recognised as an important aspect of psychological reactions after a crisis.

Children can, just like adults, be victims to random, tragic events, such as car accidents, natural disasters, deaths, or life-threatening illnesses. But childhood is a particularly vulnerable period: children’s defenselessness and dependence on adults can be abused and exploited. We warn out children not to talk to strangers, because we fear pedophilia and kidnaping, but unfortunately children are often traumatized in their own home by violent- or sexual abuse, neglect or as witness’ to violence among their parents.

Boy laying on his stomach looking at rocks.

Research on children and trauma


In recent years the Danish Center for Psychotraumatology has carried out a lot of new research within the field of children and adolescents. Among other things, we have focused assessment tools for trauma reactions in children and adolescents. 

Even the smallest children can be traumatized, and when it happens, it is important to intervene as soon as possible to avoid or at least minimize the consequences for the child later in life.
Children express symptoms differently than adults, which is why it is necessary to have assessment tools that are adapted to the expression of children of different ages in order to identify children in need of treatment as possible.

For these reasons, the Danish Center of Psychotraumatology has conducted several studies assessing the validity and accuracy of assessment tools already available abroad, such as the American "Darryl" test. Based on these studies, a corresponding Danish assessment tool, Thomas, has been developed that can be used down to the age of 6 years.
We have also recently translated the Thomas test into Greenlandic and have started implementing the test in Greenland. In addition, some research is also aimed at developing a tool that can measure trauma reactions in even younger children down to 4 years of age. 


In 2008, the Danish Center for Social Science Research conducted a cross-sectional study of 4718 young adults aged 24, born in 1984. 2980 young people participated in a structured interview that explored the participant's experiences of childhood abuse and neglect. Data from this study has provided the basis for a large body of research on the consequences of childhood maltreatment and the factors that help define the consequences of these experiences. 

Our Center have used this large amount of data to examine associations between the different childhood maltreatment, PTSD, school-related problems, and alcohol or drug abuse later in life. The aim of these studies have been to predict which children are the most at risk of different problems based on the type of neglect or abuse they have experienced. Ultimately, this can be used to specify interventions for vulnerable children and adolescents, to ensure they receive the right support. Read the overview article here.



You will find a list of  ongoing and completed projects of the research area children below. 

Cant find what you are looking for?

  • If you are looking for information on domestic violence, you will find it under the research area of violence here.
  • If you are interested in projects on parents to ill children, you will find it under the research area of  illness and loss here.
  • If you are interested in stalking involving children, you will find it under the research area of violence here.
  • It you are looking for information on children on treatment centers, you will find it under the research area of rehabilitation here.
  • If you are you interested in trauma among children involved in the explosion disaster in Seest, you will find it under the research area of disasters here.
  • Are you looking for child soldiers, you will find it under the research area of war here.


Projects related to the research area:


Ongoing projects

The aim of this study is to implement the Greenlandic versions of OCTS and the Thomas-test. Professor Ask Elklit and post.doc. Sille Schandorph were in Greenland in spring and fall 2019, with the purpose to train the Greenlandic psychologists in the use of these diagnostic assessment tools.

We are in cooperation with Fairstartfoundation and the Family Centre in Qaqortoq in the process of developing a reliable translation of SDQ to children and adolescents in different age groups and to parents, which will be accepted by the SDQ International Organization.


Relevant publications:

Banzon, T. & Elklit, A. (2023). Greenlandic norms for the Parent-Report and Self-Report Versions of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi, Institut for Psykologi, Syddansk Universitet.

Exposure to traumatic events can lead to the development of post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which in turn can have serious consequences for a child's psychological and physiological wellbeing (Fairbank and Fairbank, 2009). It is therefore worrying that most child maltreatment and other potentially traumatic events remain undetected by local authorities and hospital wards (Christoffersen, 2010). Evidence from a Danish birth cohort indicated that while 5.6% reported experiencing physical abuse, only 1.1 % were known to the local authorities, and only 0.1% were registered at a hospital ward (Christoffersen, 2010). Routine screening for PTSD during an initial mental health assessment is therefore recommended by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Cohen et al., 2010). Exposure to traumatic events and the consequent development of PTSD symptoms can be very distressing for the child. It can influence normal development negatively and may result in cognitive, emotional, and behavioural difficulties (Margolin and Vickerman, 2007). This can lead to disruptions in both the social and the school environment.

The current study examined the reliability and validity of a Danish adaptation of “Darryl”, a cartoon‐based measure of DSM‐IV symptoms of post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of Danish children and adolescents.
The study revealed that Darryl has good internal consistency for the overall scale and adequate reliability for each DSM‐IV symptom cluster.
Furthermore, Darryl is quick to administer and was easier for the children in this sample to comprehend than the more traditional measure of PTSD. Overall, Darryl is an effective instrument for screening children at risk of a PTSD diagnosis. The relatively high specificity suggests that screening positive for PTSD using Darryl merits further diagnostic assessment


Related publications: 

Løkkegaard, S. S., Jeppesen, C., & Elklit, A. (2023). Validation of the "Darryl" PTSD Cartoon Test with Abused Children. Scandinavian journal of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology, 11(1), 1–9. Doi: 10.2478/sjcapp-2023-0001

Løkkegaard, S. S., Elklit, A. & Vang, M. L. (2022).  Examination of ICD-11 PTSD and CPTSD using the International Trauma Questionnaire – Child and Adolescent version (ITQ-CA) in a sample of Danish children and adolescents exposed to abuse. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. Doi: 10.1080/20008066.2023.2178761

Løkkegaard, S. S., Jeppesen, C., Vang, M. L., Dalby, A. T. & Elklit, A. (2021). Kortlægning af den psykiske tilstand hos børn og unge testet i de danske børnehuse. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi, SDU. (1-63).

Løkkegaard, S. S., Elmose, M., & Elklit, A. (2021). Development and Initial Validation of the Odense Child Trauma Screening: A Story Stem Screening Tool for Preschool and Young School Children. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, 9, 113-126. doi:10.21307/sjcapp-2021-013

Jeppesen, C., Alkærsig, M., Løkkegaard, S.S., & Elklit, A. (2021). Evaluering og vurdering af indsamlede BITdata i de danske børnehuse. Oversigt over registrerede problemer og iværksatte indsatser til børn, der har haft et forløb i de danske børne-huse i perioden 2019-2020. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi.

Løkkegaard, S.S. (2019). How Can We Identify Traumatized Children? A study on validating assessment tools for identifying children who suffer from trauma symptomatology. (1. udg.) Faculty of Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Løkkegaard, S.S., Andersen, M. E., & Elklit, A. (2019). Validation of the Diagnostic Infant and Preschool Assessment in a Danish, Trauma-Exposed Sample of Young Children. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, 7, 39-71.

Løkkegaard, S.S., Elmose, M., Eriksen, S. B., & Elklit, A. (2018). Odense Child Trauma Screening: Kodningsmanual. Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi: Syddansk Universitet. Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi.

Løkkegaard, S.S., Rønholt, S., Karsberg, S., & Elklit, A. (2017). Validation of the PTSD screening cartoon test "Darryl" in a Danish clinical sample of children and adolescents. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 26(1). Doi: 10.1002/mpr.1514

Løkkegaard, S. S., Andersen, M. E., Eriksen, S. B., & Elklit, A. (2017). Odense Child Trauma Screening: Administrationsmanual. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi, Institut for Psykologi, Syddansk Universitet.

Andersen, M. E., Eriksen, S. B., & Løkkegaard, S.S. (2016). Udvikling af et story stem-redskab til screening af traumatisering hos førskolebørn og yngre skolebørn. Matrix, 33(2), 4-18.

Eriksen, S. B., & Elklit, A. (2013). Metoder til undersøgelse af mindre børns mulige traumer ud fra story stem-traditionen. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi, Institut for Psykologi, Syddansk Universitet.

Relevante publikationer:

Elklit, A., Murphy, S., Lausten, M. & Skovsgaard. (2022). Physical Violence against Children: A Danish National Birth Cohort Prospective Study. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 14:1. Doi: 10.1080/20008066.2023.2173764


Completed projects

This project conducts a follow up on children, who have been subject to various types of abuse. The National Board of Social Services continuously receive information from the regional child houses, with information on the character of the abuse (stressors), which is collected in a yearly statistic. This information will be used to: 1) find correlations between demographics, type of abuse, family circumstances and benefits as well as 2) asses the effect of the individual abuse. We will also examine, whether the work with the children and their cases in The Child House, leads to municipal initiatives benefitting the children.

Relevant publications:

Vang, M.L., Løkkegaard, S.S. & Elklit, A. (2020). Samarbejdet i sager, hvor der er mistanke om vold eller overgreb mod børn og unge. En dokumentanalyse af kommunernes og Børnehus Syds samarbejde om udsatte børn og unge. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi.

Experiencing a number of potentially traumatic events (polyvictimization) during an individual's life time is recognised as a risk factor for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a highly debilitating trauma‐related disorder that can consolidate into a chronic disorder that impacts negatively on the individual's wellbeing and functioning.The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM–5), states that a diagnosis of PTSD is given when an individual experiences intrusive re‐experiencing of the traumatic event, avoids trauma reminders, experiences negative swings in mood and cognition, symptoms of hyper‐arousal and profound functional impairment. A PTSD symptoms (PTSS) is operationalised as a continuous variable reflecting the total symptom severity. Adolescence is a particularly risky developmental phase, as youth are more vulnerable to experiencing potentially traumatic events (PTEs). PTEs are defined as traumatic experiences (e.g., accidents, physical abuse) that might induce PTSD and psychiatric symptoms. It is also known that adolescents who are confronted with one PTE type are at increased risk for experiencing a number of PTEs .Thus, the identification of the variables that may serve as mechanisms for the link between multiple exposures to PTEs and PTSD and psychiatric symptoms is crucial. The current study explores the mediating role of two possible psychological resources—that is, attachment orientations and perceived social support—in the associations between polyvicitimization, PTSS and psychiatric symptoms during early adolescence.


Current issue:
Zerach, G., & Elklit, A. (2019). Attachment and social support mediate associations between Polyvictimization and psychological distress in early adolescence. International Journal of Psychology. Doi: 10.1002/ijop.12590

Related publications:
Zerach, G., & Elklit, A. (2019). Attachment and social support mediate associations between Polyvictimization and psychological distress in early adolescence. International Journal of Psychology. Doi: 10.1002/ijop.12590

Zerach, G. & Elklit, A. (2017). Polyvictimization and psychological distress in early adolescence: A mediaton model of defense mechanisms and coping styles. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Doi: 10.1177/0886260517716944.

Chen, Y.Y. & Elklit, A. (2017). Exposure to Bullying Among Adolescents Across Nine Countries. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma. Doi: 10.1007/s40653-017-0172-x

Ghazali, S. R., Elklit, A., Sultan, M. A., Balang, R. V., & Chen, Y. Y.(2016): Lifetime trauma exposure, gender and DSM-V PTSD symptoms among adolescents in Malaysia. Traumatology, 23(3), 235-239. Doi: 10.1037/trm0000088

Mandrup, L. & Elklit, A. (2014). Victimization and PTSD in Ugandan Youth. Open Journal of Epidemiology, 4(3), 141-156. Doi: 10.4236/ojepi.2014.43020

Petersen, T. & Elklit, A. (2014). Risk factors for suicide attempts in the total population of Faroese eighth graders. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, 2(3), 106-114.

Karsberg, S., Armour, C. & Elklit, A. (2014). Patterns of victimization, suicide attempt, and posttraumatic stress disorder in Greenlandic adolescents: a latent class analysis. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49(9),1389-99. Doi 10.1007/s00127-014-0890-4.

Petersen, T., Elklit, A. & Olesen, J. G. (2013). Attachment Styles and PTSD in Ado-lescents in three Nordic Countries. Open Journal of Epidemiology, 3, 1-10. Doi: 10.4236/ojepi.2013.32010

Petersen, T., Armour, C. & Elklit, A. (2013). Modelling Patterns of Negative Life Experiences and Mental Health in Faroese Adolescents. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1(2), 63-71.

Karsberg, S. H. & Elklit, A.(2012) Victimization and PTSD in a Rural Kenyan youth sample. Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, 8, 91-101.

Karsberg, S. H., Lasgaard, M. & Elklit, A. (2012). Victimisation and PTSD in a Greenlandic youth sample. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 71. Doi: 10.3402/ijch.v71i0.18378

Petersen, T., Elklit, A., & Gytz, J.(2010) Victimization and PTSD in a Faroese Youth Total Population Sample. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 51, 56-62.

Domanskaité-Gota, V., Elklit, A. & Christiansen, D.(2009) Victimization and PTSD in a Lithuanian National Youth Probability Sample. Nordic Psychology, 61(3), 66-81.

Elklit, A. & Petersen, T.(2008) Exposure to Traumatic Events Among Adolescents in Four Nations. Torture, 18(1), 2-11.

Shevlin, M. & Elklit, A.(2008) A latent class analysis of adolescent adverse life events based on a Danish national youth probability sample. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 60 (3), 218-224.

Rasmussen, D.J., Karsberg, S., Karstoft, K-I. & Elklit, A. (2008) Victimization and PTSD in an Indian youth sample from Pune City. Open Journal of Epidemiology, 3(1), 12-19. Doi: 10.4236/ojepi.2013.31003

Rhiger, M. T., Elklit, A. & Lasgaard, M.(2008) Trauma in an Israeli Youth Sample. Nordic Psychology, 60 (2), 101-113.

Bödvarsdóttir, Í. & Elklit, A. (2007) Victimization and PTSD-like states in an Icelandic youth probability sample. BMC Psychiatry, 7, 51. Doi:10.1186/1471-244X-7-51

Elklit, A.(2002): Victimization and PTSD in a Danish National Youth Probability Sample. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41, 174-181.

The association between childhood adversity and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology has been argued to be both directly and indirectly explained through a number of psychological mechanisms. This study builds on recent findings from an analysis of childhood adversity co-occurrence that revealed 4 groups: emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and multiple (overall) abuse and a no-abuse group to investigate the relationship between PTSD experiences. Data was analyzed using a Danish stratified probability survey that included 2980 interviews of 24-year-olds. A multiple mediator model was conducted to assess the role of self-esteem, social support, and being bullied at school on the abuse types and PTSD experiences. Results indicated that the 3 mediating variables were all statistically significant with low social support exerting the strongest influence in the association between childhood adversity and PTSD experiences. Low self-esteem, however, was only associated with sexual abuse. The current study supports that there are direct and indirect effects between childhood adversity and PTSD experiences but suggests there may be additional mechanisms underlying this relationship. Further exploration into underlying mechanisms will promote and inform intervention and treatment programs.

Current issue: 
Murphy, S., Shevlin, M., Armour, C., Elklit, A., & Christoffersen, M. N. (2014). Childhood adversity and PTSD experiences: Testing a multiple mediator model. Traumatology, 20(3), 225–231.

Related publications:
Murphy, S., Elklit, A., & Shevlin, M. (2017). Child maltreatment typologies and intimate partner violence: findings from a Danish national study of young adults. Journal of interpersonal violence.

Murphy, S. & Elklit, A. Validating Childhood Maltreatment Typologies Using Data Linkage. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 1-14. Doi: 10.1080/15325024.2017.1404204.



The present study investigated associations between loneliness in different social relationships and indicators of psychopathology in adolescence. A nationally representative sample of 1009 high school students completed measures of three types of loneliness and six indicators of psychopathology. Results indicated that peer-related and family-related loneliness were associated with depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation, whereas peer-related and romantic loneliness were associated with social phobia. In contrast, only family-related loneliness was associated with deliberate self-harm and eating disorders. It is important, therefore, to distinguish between experiences of loneliness in different social relationships, in particular the peer versus the family setting, when investigating loneliness and psychopathology in adolescence. 

Current issue: 
Lasgaard, M., Goossens, L., Bramsen, R. H., Trillingsgaard, T., & Elklit, A.(2011): Different sources of loneliness are associated with different forms of psychopathology in adolescence. Journal of Research in Personality, 45, 233-237. Doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2010.12.00

Related publications:
Lasgaard, M., Goosens, L. & Elklit, A.(2010): Loneliness, Depressive Symptomatology, and Suicide Ideation in Adolescence: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal analyses. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 137-150. Doi: 10.1007a/s10802-010-9442-x

Lasgaard, M. (2010).Loneliness in adolescence: conceptualization, methodology, and empirical evidence: Phd Thesis.

Lasgaard, M. (2007). Reliability and validity of the Danish version of the UCLA Loneliness Scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 42(7), 1359-1366. Doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2006.10.013

Nielsen, A., & Lasgaard, M. (2007). Ensom eller bare ene? Ung Trivsel, (3), 14-16.

Lasgaard, M. (2007). Et ungdomsliv på egen hånd: - introduktion til forskning i ensomhed blandt unge. I A. Wiborg (red.), Der er bare ikke rigtig nogen...: - en antologi om unge og ensomhed (s. 40-57). København: Ventilen.

Lasgaard, M. (2006). Ensom blandt andre. En psykologisk undersøgelse af ensomhed hos unge i Danmark. Psykologisk studieskriftserie, 9(1), 1-131.

Lasgaard, M. S. (2006). Ensomme unge gemmer sig i klassen. Psykiatri Information, (3), 12-13.

This project examined children who were exposed to domestic violence and consequently lived in the Odense women’s shelter with their mothers. The children’s well-being, coping strategies and their relationships to their caregivers were examined. The psychological mechanisms of the consequences of being a victim to domestic violence were also elucidated. The purpose of this project was to create the foundation for an intervention model to help abused mothers and their children. It was found, that children fight to survive and find the best way to adapt to their violent upbringing. They use different coping-strategies at a point in their lives, where they cannot control their life situation. Lacking help from their surroundings can result in a high risk of a development course, which ends in long-term consequences like somatic illnesses and/or social and academic problems.

Completed: 2015

Related publications:
Vang, M. L., Skøt, L., Troensegaard, A. M., & Elklit, A. (2015). Når livet slår fra sig: En eksplorativ undersøgelse af børn på krisecenter. Odense: Syddansk Universitet. Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi.

Objective: This study examined the link between new mothers’ attachment orientation and the perceived cost of sole responsibility in housework and child care. Background: The transition to motherhood can be very stressful, and according to the Vulnerability Stress Adaptation Model (VSA model), the way it affects the couple relationship is likely to depend on interacting factors from different domains of risk (e.g. individual and couple level). We expected interactions to appear between domains of attachment and labour division. The hypothesis was that sole responsibility in child care and housework would predict lower relationship satisfaction, particularly among mothers who were high on attachment insecurity. Methods: Data from self-report measures of adult attachment, child care, housework and relationship satisfaction were collected from 255 first-time mothers at six months postpartum. Results: Sole responsibility in child care predicted lower relationship satisfaction, particularly among mothers who were high on attachment avoidance. This interaction effect was significant but small. Among main effects, higher levels of either attachment anxiety or avoidance were linked with lower relationship satisfaction and lower levels of sole responsibility in childcare was linked with higher relationship satisfaction. Conclusion: These findings provide new data on the how risk factors from separate domains combine, and implications are discussed in terms of applying the VSA model when developing preventive interventions for new mothers.

Current issue:
Trillingsgaard, T., Sommer, D., Lasgaard, M., & Elklit, A. (2014). Adult Attachment and Perceived Cost of Housework and Child Care. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 32, 508-519. Doi 10.1080/02646838.2014.945516

Related Publications:
Trillingsgaard, T., Baucom, K.J.W, Heyman, R.E. & Elklit, A. (2012). Relationship Interventions During the Transition to Parenthood: Issues of Timing and Efficacy. Family Relationships, 61 (5), 770-783. Doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00730.x

Trillingsgaard, T., Elklit, A., Shevlin, M. & Maimburg, R. D. (2011): Adult Attach-ment Dimensions at the Transition to Motherhood: Predicting Worry, Health Care Utility, and Relationship Functioning. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 29 (4), 354-363. Doi:10.1080/02646838.2011.611937

School bullying is a serious problem affecting the victims, their daily life, and society in general. An increasing amount of research on school bullying has recently been published which calls for an updated review on the literature. The objective of this article is to review psychological variables which may explain individual reactions to bullying victimization in school-aged children. The selected psychological variables are coping, social support, attachment, negative affectivity/neuroticism, and somatization. The strengths and limitations of the reviewed research are discussed, and future research directions focusing on a more dynamic understanding of personal factors are suggested.

► Attachment may act as a risk/protective factor in becoming a victim of bullying.

► Negative affectivity may predispose some children to become victims of bullying.

► Victims of bullying lack the use of adaptive coping strategies and social support.

► Victims of bullying report higher levels of somatic symptoms.

► Future research needs a more dynamic understanding of personal factors.



Current issue:
Hansen, T. B., Steenberg, L. M., Palic, S. & Elklit, A. (2012). A Review of Psychological Factors Related to Bullying Victimization in Schools. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17 (4), 383-387. Doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2012.03.008


Related publications:
Chen, Y.Y. & Elklit, A. (2017). Exposure to Bullying among Adolescents across Nine Countries. Journal of Child and Adolescent trauma. Doi: 10.1007/s40653-017-0172-x

Multiple forms of abuse may co-occur, resulting in specific abuse typologies. A stratified random probability survey was conducted in Denmark with 4,718 participants, aged 24, from the 1984 birth cohort. A total of 2,980 interviews were successfully conducted. Latent class analysis was implemented using 20 categorical abuse experience items across four domains of childhood maltreatment. Logistic regression was conducted to ascertain whether abuse typologies could be differentiated by child protection status and gender. Four distinct abuse typologies were revealed: a non-abused group, a psychologically maltreated group, a sexually abused group, and a group experiencing multiple abuse types. Child protection status and female gender were predictive of group membership in certain abused groups compared to a non-abused group.



Current issue:
Armour, C., Elklit, A. & Christoffersen, M. N. (2014). A Latent Class Analysis of Childhood Maltreatment: Identifying Abuse Typologies. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 19(1), 23-39. Doi: 10.1080/15325024.2012.734205

Related publicatons:
Wolf, N. & Elklit, A. (2018) The impact of different types of child maltreatment on disordered eating in adulthood: A mediating role of PTSD and self-esteem? Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 1-12.

Christoffersen, M., Armour, C., Lasgaard, M., Andersen, T. E., & Elklit, A. (2013). The Prevalence of Four Types of Childhood Maltreatment in Denmark. Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, 9, 149-156.

Murphy, S., Shevlin, M., Armour, C., Elklit, A., & Christoffersen, M. N. (2014). Childhood adversity and PTSD experiences: Testing a Multiple Mediator Model. Traumatology, 20(3), 225-231.

Elklit, A., Karstoft, K.-I., Feddern, D. & Christoffersen, M. (2013) Predicting Criminality from child maltreatment typologies and posttraumatic stress symptoms. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 4, 1-7. Doi: org/10.3402/ejpt.v4i0.19825.

Roenholt, S., Beck, N. N., Karsberg, S. H. & Elklit, A. (2012). Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms and Childhood Abuse Categories in a National Representative Sample for a Specific Age Group: Associations to Body Mass Index. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 3. Doi:10.3402/ejpt.v3i0.17188

Armour, C., Smith, G. W., Elklit, A. & Christoffersen, M. N. (2014). Polydrug Use Typologies and Childhood Maltreatment in a Nationally Representative Survey of Danish Young Adults. Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs, 75(1), 170-178.

Beck, N., Palic, S., Andersen, T.E. & Rønholt, S. (2013). Childhood Abuse Types and Physical Health at the Age of 24: Testing Health Risk Behaviors and Psychological Distress as Mediators. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 23, 400-413.

Sanderud, K., Murphy, S. & Elklit, A. (2016) Child maltreatment and ADHD symptoms in a sample of young adults. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 7. Doi: 10.3402/ejpt.v7.32061

Cronin, S., Murphy, S. & Elklit, A. (2016) Investigating the Relationship between Childhood Maltreatment and Alcohol Misuse in a sample of Danish young adults: Exploring Gender Differences. Nordic Journal of Alcohol Studies, 33, 287-298.

Elklit, A., Michelsen, L & Siobhan, M. (2016): Childhood Maltreatment and School Problems: A Danish National Study. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 62(1), 150-159.

Schouwenaars, K., Murphy, S. & Elklit, A.: The relationship between child maltreatment groups and exposure to traumatic events in later adolescence and young adulthood. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, 4(3), 115-122.

We have investigated a range of psychological conditions in the 1984 birth cohort and mapped a number of issues in relation to psychosis, other psychiatric disorders, suicide and substance abuse.  


Shevlin, M., Hyland, P., Murphy, J., Elklit, A., Murphy S, Kearney, M., Christie, D. & Christoffersen M. (2017): Social, familial and psychological risk factors for any endocrine, nutritional and metabolic disorders in childhood and early adulthood. Current Psychology, 1-7. Doi: 10.1007/s12144-017-9687-4

Hyland, P., Shevlin, M., Elklit, A., Christoffersen, M., & Murphy, J. (2016). Social, familial and psychological risk factors for mood and anxiety disorders in childhood and early adulthood: a birth cohort study using the Danish Registry System. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 51(3), 331-338.

Shevlin, M., McElroy, E., Christoffersen, M. N., Elklit, A., Hyland, P., & Murphy, J. (2016). Social, familial and psychological risk factors for psychosis: A birth cohort study using the Danish Registry System. Psychosis, 8(2), 95-105.

Shevlin, M., McElroy, E., Murphy, J., Hyland, P., Vallieres, F., Elklit, A. & Christoffersen, M. (2017). Cannabis and psychosis: the impact of polydrug use. Drugs and Alcohol Today, 17, 186-194. Doi: 10.1108/DAT-03-2017-0014

Murphy, J., Shevlin, M., Hyland, P., Christoffersen, M., Elklit, A. & Bentall, R. (2018): Reconsidering the association between psychosis and suicide: a suicide drive hypothesis. Psychosis. Doi: 10.1080/17522439.2018.1522541

In a non-clinical adolescent sample, the present study investigated the predictive and the mediating effects of several rudimentary risk factors for post-traumatic stress. The study had three objectives: 1) to identify predictors of posttraumatic stress, 2) to explore the mediating effect of diverse psychosocial factors on posttraumatic stress, and 3) to explore the mediating effect of body-image on posttraumatic stress across trauma types. .

Bjerre, L., Dokkedahl, S. & Elklit, A. (2017): Risk Factors for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: The Role of Previous Traumas, Peri-traumatic Response, Social Support and Body-image. Journal of Child & Adolescent Behavior, 5(4). Doi: 10.4172/2375-4494.1000349

Gender is an important risk factor for both posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUD) in adolescents; however, little is known about the influence of gender when considering their common co-occurrence. This study examined independent predictors of PTSD severity between genders in a Danish probability sample of 15- to 18-year-old males (n = 863) and females (n = 1,125). The results showed that drug abuse and avoidant attachment to best friends were significant predictors of PTSD severity in male adolescents, whereas alcohol abuse and the absence of posttraumatic social support from parents remained significant predictors for female adolescents. The results support the influence of gender-specific substance abuse patterns and dysfunctional interpersonal relationships on the PTSD severity of traumatized adolescents.

Related publications:
Donbaek, D. F. & Elklit, A. (2015). Gender-specific predictors of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Adolescence: The role of problematic substance use and interper-sonal relationships. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 8, 161-172. Doi: 10.1007/s40653-015-0040-5

The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire - Short Form (CTQ-SF) is a widely utilized self-report instrument in the assessment and characterization of childhood trauma. Yet, research on the instrument's psychometric properties in clinical samples is sparse, and the Danish version of the CTQ-SF has not been previously evaluated in clinical samples.

To examine the structural validity, internal consistency reliability, and multi-method convergent validity of the CTQ-SF in a heterogenous clinical sample from Denmark.

The study was based on data from four Danish clinical samples (N = 393): 1) Outpatients diagnosed with personality disorders, 2) Patients commencing psychiatric treatment for non-affective first-episode psychosis, 3) Patients diagnosed with first-episode or prolonged depression recruited from general practitioners and an outpatient mood disorder clinic, and 4) detained delinquent boys.

Confirmatory factor analysis was used to explore structural validity. Also, we calculated internal consistency and multi-method convergent validity with interview-based ratings of adverse parenting.

Confirmatory factor analyses indicated that the five-factor structure described in CTQ-SF manual with three error correlated items best fitted the data, as compared to various other models. Coefficients of congruence also supported factorial similarity across countries (i.e. US substance abuser and a mixed Brazilian sample). Internal consistency reliability was acceptable and comparable to estimates previously published. Multi-method convergent validity associations further corroborated the validity of the CTQ-SF.
Conclusion: These findings provide support for the reliability and validity of the Danish version of the CTQ-SF in clinical samples.

Related publications:
Psychometric validation of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire- Short Form (CTQ-SF) in a Danish clinical sample.

This project evaluated group therapy with 19 adolescents, who all had lost a parent to cancer. The adolescents were in the normal range, regarding personality disorders and clinical symptoms, but the results indicated, that the adolescents had an increased anxiety level after losing a parent. Furthermore, the study showed that the adolescents possibly experienced a separation problematic/issue. The adolescents ages 18-20 years, experienced problematic thoughts and sleep problems to a greater extent than the older adolescents of 21-25 years.

Completed: 2003

Even infants are affected by traumatic experiences and these can cause severe psychological consequences for the rest of their lives. The early traumatic experience can affect the child’s biological, emotional, social and cognitive functional levels in both a short and long term and can therefore also be a risk factor for the development of psychological disorders, as PTSD, later in life. This project set out to make recommendations for specific tools, for identification and evaluation of the effect of earlier trauma on the child, for the relevant authorities in contact with children. By overviewing international knowledge about this subject in clinical practice, we found six relevant tools, which future research should focus on validating and translating for Danish clinical practice: DIPA (Diagnostic Infant and Preschool Assessment), YCPC (Young Child PTSD Checklist), YCPS (Young Child PTSD Screen), Thomas (eng. Darryl), Strange Situation Procedure and MCAST.

Related publications:
Karsberg, S. (2012). Hvordan vurderer vi småbørnstraumer? Psykolog Nyt, 66(5), 12.

Karsberg, S., Rønholt, S., & Elklit, A. (2012). Hvordan vurderer vi småbørnstraumer? - En sammenfatning af en tværfaglig arbejdsgruppes overvejelser. Syddansk Universitet. Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi.

DVD-collection of presentations and conferences concerning identification of trauma among toddlers. If interested, contact us pr. mail


This study surveys the childhood experiences of treatment‐seeking young adult offspring of problem drinkers (AOPDs) and their psychological state at treatment baseline. Methods: Clients (N=502) entering a Danish nationwide treatment facility for young AOPDS completed the survey. Clients completed the Adult Children of Alcoholics Trauma Inventory, The Family Tree Questionnaire, the CORE–OM 34, Major Depression Inventory, and the Work and Social Adjustment Scale at treatment start. Results: A total of 48% of the clients' mothers and 75% of the clients' fathers were problem drinkers. Both parents were problem drinkers in 25% of cases, and 27% had at least one problem drinking stepparent. Mothers had on average drunk during 11.4 years of the clients' childhood (0–18 years). Fathers had on average drunk during 13.4 years; 46% knew or believed that at least one of their parents suffered from a psychiatric illness; 44% reported physical violence; 63% reported psychological abuse; and 38% had not spoken to anyone about their family's problem. A further 20% had only spoken to a parent or sibling. Conclusions/implications: The study highlights the high degree of variation in AOPD clients' childhood experiences and in their levels of distress, corresponding with studies of non clinical samples. The study offers a bleak image of the extent of parental drinking and of other negative factors in these clients' childhood homes, coupled with the finding that clients have often not spoken to others about their parents' drinking. Mentioning parental drinking to a counsellor is thus a potentially highly significant counselling event, demanding counsellor sensitivity and attention.

Related publications:
Mackrill, T. & Elklit, A. (2012).Treatment-seeking young adults from families with alcohol problems. What have they been through? What state are they in? Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 12(4), 276. Doi: 10.1080/14733154.2012.662519.




Last Updated 28.09.2023