Displacement-related stressors in a Sri Lankan war-affected community: Identifying the impact of war exposure and ongoing stressors on trauma symptom severity

Author/s: Fiona C. Thomas, Simon Coulombe, Todd A. Girard, Tae L. Hart, Shannon Doherty, Giselle Dass, Kolitha Wickramage, Chesmal Siriwardhana, Rajendra Surenthirakumaran, Kelly McShane
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Language: English
Publication Type: Scientific report (Journal)(External)

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Abstract
In recent years, there has been a shift in the literature towards identifying how ongoing stress adversely affects mental health beyond the effect of direct exposure to war-related violence. The goal of the current study was to investigate the relationship between displacement-related stressors and trauma symptom severity. Participants (N = 1015) were recruited from primary healthcare clinics (PHCs) in Northern Sri Lanka and completed a demographic and displacement history questionnaire, the Stressful Life Events Checklist, and the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. Four latent stressor constructs were identified through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses: 1) personal safety concerns; 2) war-related loss; 3) material loss, and 4) personal hardships. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationship between stressors and trauma symptom severity. In the final structural equation model, war-related loss and material loss were positively related to symptom severity whereas psychosocial hardship was found to be negatively related to symptom severity. Results highlight how an integrated model of mental health can more fully inform the needs stemming from displacement-related stressors.

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SSM - Mental Health