OBJECTIVE: Few community studies have addressed the longitudinal course of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in traumatized refugees in early resettlement. This longitudinal study investigated changes from the first (T1) to the second interview (T2), 3 years later. The relationship between traumatic exposures and psychosocial factors/psychological symptom load were examined. METHOD: Local health professionals performed the interviews, using rating scales and a structured questionnaire. A total of 240 (52%) refugees attended. RESULTS: Unchanged Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 and increase in Harvard Trauma Questionnaire and post-traumatic stress symptoms-16 between T1 and T2 were found, indicating the severity and chronicity of problems. Mean post-traumatic stress score was 15% above cut-off. Severe life-threatening trauma and present life in exile with unemployment and unresolved family reunion were risk factors. CONCLUSION: Early diagnostic interview should be followed by targeted approach. Pinpointing those in need of specialist services is essential. An interdisciplinary approach is necessary in this work.
Refugee patients with severe traumatic experiences may need mental health treatment, but treatment results vary, and there is scarcity of studies demonstrating refugees' long-term health and well-being after treatment. In a 10-year naturalistic and longitudinal study, 54 multi-origin traumatized adult refugee patients, with a background of war and persecution, and with a mean stay in Norway of 10.5 years, were recruited as they entered psychological treatment in mental health specialist services. The participants were interviewed face-to-face with multiple methods at admittance, and at varying points in time during and after psychotherapy. The aim was to study the participants' trajectories of symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression, four aspects of quality of life, and two aspects of exile life functioning. Linear mixed effects analyses included all symptoms and quality of life measures obtained at different times and intervals for the participants. Changes in exile life functioning was investigated by exact McNemar tests. Participants responded to the quantitative assessments up to eight times. Length of therapy varied, with a mean of 61.3 sessions (SD = 74.5). The participants improved significantly in symptoms, quality of life, and exile life functioning. Improvement in symptoms of posttraumatic stress, anxiety, and depression yielded small effect sizes (r = .05 to .13), while improvement in quality of psychological and physical health yielded medium effect sizes (r = .38 and .32). Thus, long-time improvement after psychological therapy in these severely traumatized and mostly chronified refugee patients, was more notable in quality of life and exile life functioning than in symptom reduction. The results imply that major symptom reduction may not be attainable, and may not be the most important indication of long-term improvement among refugees with long-standing trauma-related suffering. Other indications of beneficial effects should be applied as well.
Most of the data on psychological outcome and the mental health treatment available following natural disasters originate from the indigenous population of the region destroyed. Examining tourists returning from the area affected by the 2004 tsunami presents an opportunity of studying the impact of natural disasters on psychological outcome and mental health treatment in their countries of origin. The aim of the present study was to extend the current knowledge on psychiatric morbidity and potential positive outcomes, as well as subsequent mental health treatment following a natural disaster, based on the results from a sample of home-coming Swiss tourists.
Tourists who had been potentially affected by the 2004 tsunami were assessed using the Post-traumatic Diagnostic Scale, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and the Post-traumatic Growth Inventory. Outcome variables were related to the degree of tsunami exposure. In addition, mental health treatment before and after the tsunami was assessed.
Of the 342 respondents, 55 (16.8%) fulfilled the criteria of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Evidence of anxiety or depressive disorder was found in 17.8% and 8.0%, respectively. The tsunami victims who had been directly affected showed significantly more symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD, as well as post-traumatic personal growth, than tourists who were indirectly affected or unaffected. A total of 12.3% of untreated respondents fulfilled the criteria for PTSD and 38% of respondents who had received psychiatric treatment were still fulfilling PTSD criteria 2(1/2) years after the tsunami.
A marked percentage of respondents reported symptoms of PTSD but they remained untreated or were treated insufficiently. We recommend that tourists returning from regions affected by natural disasters be informed about PTSD and that careful screening be given to those found to be at risk of PTSD. An open-door policy of mental health services is particularly needed for tourists returning home who have been affected by large-scale disasters.
The aim of this study was to describe and evaluate the clinical pattern of 14 youths with presenting suicidality, to describe an integrative treatment approach, and to estimate therapy effectiveness. Fourteen patients aged 10 to 18 years from a child and adolescent outpatient clinic in Stockholm were followed in a case series. The patients were treated with active multimodal psychotherapy. This consisted of mood charting by mood-maps, psycho-education, wellbeing practice and trauma resolution. Active techniques were psychodrama and body-mind focused techniques including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. The patients were assessed before treatment, immediately after treatment and at 22 months post treatment with the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale. The clinical pattern of the group was observed. After treatment there was a significant change towards normality in the Global Assessment of Functioning scale both immediately post-treatment and at 22 months. A clinical pattern, post trauma suicidal reaction, was observed with a combination of suicidality, insomnia, bodily symptoms and disturbed mood regulation. We conclude that in the post trauma reaction suicidality might be a presenting symptom in young people. Despite the shortcomings of a case series the results of this study suggest that a mood-map-based multimodal treatment approach with active techniques might be of value in the treatment of children and youth with suicidality.
Stress reactions were studied in 92 children and adolescents held as hostages by the terrorists in Beslan (September, 2004). A special feature of mental trauma in this group of hostages is its extraordinary severity and duration, marked physical exhaustion and dehydration, a high proportion of small children, high frequency of burns, wounds and traumas. All the examinees demonstrated main signs of acute stress reactions (ASR): disturbed consciousness, psychomotor disorders, emotional disorders and autonomic changes. Moreover, there were such ASR appearances as repeated experience of trauma, avoidance, dissociation and regressive symptoms, hallucinations and delusion. A very high frequency of anxiety, fear and sleep disorder was registered. Age-specific characteristics of ASR are shown: higher frequency and longer duration of disturbed consciousness in small children, inverse relation between the degree of emotional experience differentiation and the victim's age. More severe mental disorders develop in victims who have lost their relatives.
Psychological resistance may be of considerable importance in the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) population, considering that researchers in the field of traumatic stress are frequently unsuccessful in achieving high response rates, that many subjects suffering from PTSD never seek help, and that dropouts from therapy are frequent. This article presents data on the main complaints reported in the acute aftermath of an industrial disaster by 246 employees who had been exposed to the disaster. The dominant concerns were symptomatic complaints related to posttraumatic stress reactions rather than external problems. Sleep disturbance, anxiety/fear responses, and physical symptoms were reported by individuals with complaints in the acute phase as most problematic, while irritability and depressive symptoms appeared very infrequently among the reported main complaints. A high specificity and sensitivity were achieved in predicting later PTSD (as defined by DSM-III criteria) by applying early response variables: thus, there were few false-positives and false-negatives. There was a considerable overlap between the PTSD predictors and the main symptom complaints. From a prevention point of view, this should be advantageous, since it would bring the right people to seek help. However, in a significant proportion of the acutely distressed, the reluctance to seek help was motivated by the very symptoms that predicted PTSD. Even a relatively high rate of subjects agreeing to be screened (82.8%) would have lost 42% of those who qualified for a diagnosis of PTSD, and more than half of the subjects with severe outcomes would not have been included. For primary and secondary prevention, the findings suggest that early screening and outreach should be very active.
The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of acute distress-that is, clinically significant posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and depression-and to identify predictors of each in a sample of people who witnessed a fatal aircraft collision at the 2005 Saskatchewan Centennial Air Show.
Air Show attendees (N = 157) were recruited by advertisements in the local media and completed an Internet-administered battery of questionnaires.
Based on previously established cut-offs, 22 percent respondents had clinically significant PTSS and 24 percent had clinically significant depressive symptoms. Clinically significant symptoms were associated with posttrauma impairment in social and occupational functioning. Acute distress was associated with several variables, including aspects of Air Show trauma exposure, severity of prior trauma exposure, low posttrauma social support (ie, negative responses by others), indices of poor coping (eg, intolerance of uncertainty, rumination about the trauma), and elevated scores on anxiety sensitivity, the personality trait of absorption, and dissociative tendencies.
Results suggest that clinically significant acute distress is common in the aftermath of witnessed trauma. The statistical predictors (correlates) of acute distress were generally consistent with the results of studies of other forms of trauma. People with elevated scores on theoretical vulnerability factors (eg, elevated anxiety sensitivity) were particularly likely to develop acute distress.
Sixty-six passengers surviving a collision of two trains were investigated concerning relevant background data, degree of personal injury, experience of a threat to life, symptoms and problems immediately after the accident, and thoughts about difficulty in coping. The most obvious impact on the survivors was the experience of being close to death. One result of this was that they developed a new coping strategy to minimize emotional pain. Some survivors also suffered problems of "re-living" the accident. This is important for the coping process. The process includes psychological integration of the accident as an important life event. The findings indicate that "re-living" of the accident through nightmares and intrusive thoughts is responsible for problems in carrying out ordinary tasks. The observations are in accordance with those made after other types of accidents and disasters.
The aims of this study were to investigate acute and subacute post-traumatic reactions in victims of physical non-domestic violence. A Norwegian sample of 138 physically assaulted victims was interviewed and a questionnaire was completed. The following areas were examined: the frequency and intensity of acute and subacute psychological reactions such as peritraumatic dissociation (PD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety and depression; the relationship between several psychological reactions; the relationship between psychological reactions and level of physical injury, perceived life threat, and potential of severe physical injury, and the relationship between psychological reactions and socio-demographic variables. The following distress reactions were measured retrospectively: PD, PTSD, and anxiety and depression. Thirty-three per cent of the victims scored as probable PTSD cases according to the Post Traumatic Symptoms Scale 10 (PTSS-10); the corresponding Impact of Event Scale-15 (IES-15) score identified prevalence of 34% respectively. Forty-four per cent scored as cases with probable anxiety and depression, according to the Hopkins Symptom Check List 25 (HSCL-25). Severity of perceived threat predicted higher scores on all measures of psychological reactions. There were no statistically significant differences between acute and subacute groups on PD, PTSS-10, IES-15, IES-22 and HSCL-25 according to measured means (and standard deviations) and occurrence of probable cases and risk level cases. The results showed no connection between severity of physical injury and caseness. The acute psychological impairment that results from assault violence may have a deleterious effect on the mental health of victims.
The relationship between the acute response to rape and the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was studied in 55 victims of rape and attempted rape during the first two weeks after the assault. The results show that in the majority of victims the response to rape within the first two weeks displays the symptoms of PTSD, although the criterion of duration is not fulfilled. Specific features of the response to rape, like shame, guilt and suicidal ideation are discussed. The importance of early detection to enable the administration of adequate treatment is emphasized and suggestions for further research are offered.