This study explores the parent-child relationship between second generation Cambodian Americans (SGCA) and their first generation parents, as reported by SGCA. Specifically this study examined the effects of parental trauma from the Khmer Rouge (Cambodian genocide), on SGCA in relation to SGCA's mental health status, parent-child communication, cohesion, flexibility, and academic achievements. This study was conceptualized through the effects of intergenerational trauma. A quantitative approach was used to analyze the data. Instruments used to measure the variables in the research included Harvard Trauma Questionnaire Revised Cambodian Version (HTQ), Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18), Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales (FACES-IV), and Grade Point Average (GPA). One hundred seventy-two SGCA college students from the Khmer Student Coalition (KSC) in California were selected between the ages of 18 and 28 completed all the self-report questionnaires. Based on Path analysis, this study found that trauma and anxiety were related; they both affected family dynamics, which affected communication and communication affected GPA. The model demonstrated a good fit of p-value > .05, CFI = 0.994, GFI = 0.984, and RMSEA = 0.051. This model indicates that intergenerational trauma in Cambodian young adults will negatively affect their GPA, but certain family dynamics can buffer against this effect such as family communication, flexibility, and cohesion. Specially, this study contributes new knowledge to the field of family science as outcomes of this study show the importance of family dynamics when working with Cambodian families on trauma and academic achievement as well as highlighting the significance of a relational approach to working with these families.

LLU Discipline

Marriage and Family Therapy


Counseling and Family Sciences


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Distelberg, Brian

Second Advisor

Eng, Sothy

Third Advisor

Fox, Curtis A.

Fourth Advisor

Knudson-Martin, Carmen

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2013

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Psychic trauma - Family Relationships; Family Relations; Immigrants - Family Relationships; Parent and Child; Children of Immigrants; Cambodian Americans;

Subject - Local

Parent-Child Relationships; Parental Trauma; Genocide; Harvard Trauma Questionnaire; Family dynamics



Page Count

76 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives