Postconflict internally displaced persons in Ethiopia: mental distress and quality of life in relation to traumatic life events, coping strategy, social support, and living conditions
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Background: There are about 23.7 million internally displaced persons worldwide today, still living in the low-income countries. Ethiopia has for the past four decades been ravaged by war and famine. A lengthy civil war resulted in Eritrea, formerly a part of Ethiopia, becoming an independent state in 1991. This war led to displacement of one million people, and currently there are about 55000 internally displaced Ethiopians in Addis Ababa, most of them living in temporary shelters. A minority resettled in a small town Debre Zeit south east of Addis Ababa, dispersed in the community.
Objectives: To study the consequences of trauma and extreme stress among these displaced persons.
Methods: A random sample of 1200 displaced persons was selected from the Kaliti and Kore shelters of Addis Ababa, aged between 18 and 60 years. They were interviewed by internationally validated instruments which were translated into the Ethiopian official language Amharic. Information thus obtained covered sociodemographics, childhood trauma, traumatic life events, and mental distress as assessed by the SCL-90-R, the four domains of quality of life assessed by WHOQOL-BREF, coping strategies, perceived social support, and basic living conditions. A sample of 120 subjects from the displaced persons living in Debre Zeit was similarly evaluated. A study comparing prevalence rates and risk factors for PTSD in four postconflict, low-income countries (Algeria, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Gaza) was also undertaken.
Results: Men, compared to women, reported significantly higher experience of trauma, higher perceived social support, and higher task-oriented coping. Women reported higher emotion-oriented coping. In both genders, emotion-oriented coping was correlated with higher trauma events, and task-oriented coping was correlated with higher perceived social support. Mental distress increased and quality of life decreased with age. Mental distress mediated the effects of most trauma in reducing quality of life, and some trauma reduced quality of life directly. Living conditions were also significantly related to quality of life. Coping strategies and perceived social support influenced mental distress and quality of life directly as well as indirectly by moderation, in part gender specific. Placement in the community setting of Debre Zeit gave a better quality of life compared to placement in the shelters of Addis Ababa. This difference was accounted for by the difference in living conditions, particularly protection from animals (rodents) and insects (mosquitoes), for three domains of quality of life. For domain 3 (social relationships), however, several further factors accounted for the difference, like marital status, ethnic belonging and coping strategy. The comparative study of 4 postconflict countries contributes to the theory that trauma may be the direct cause of the onset of PTSD but that a multiplicity of other adverse events determine the development of this disorder.
Conclusions: Using the same assessment methods, a wide range of rates of symptoms of PTSD were found among 4 low-income populations who have experienced war, conflict, or mass violence. In the Ethiopian context we also found gender differences in the trauma background, coping strategies and perceived social support. Mental distress mediated much of the effects of trauma on quality of life. Coping strategies and perceived social support were significant moderators in this process.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Psykiatri , 2007. , 80 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1143
Psychiatry, Ethiopia, postconflict displaced persons, trauma, mental distress, quality of life, coping, social support
Research subject Psychiatry
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1434ISBN: 978-91-7264-458-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-1434DiVA: diva2:141049
2007-12-12, Psykiatriska klinikens föreläsningssal A, 23, Norlands universitetssjukhus, 901 85 Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Ågren, Hans, Professor
Chotai, Jayanti, DocentKullgren, Gunnar, Professor
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