Category: Cultural Diversity / Vulnerable Populations

PS14- #C85 - A Model of Tension Among Trauma-Exposed Indian Women

Saturday, Nov 18
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Cultural Diversity/ Vulnerable Populations | Trauma | Asian Americans

Tension is an idiom of distress used in South Asian linguistic groups (Chatterjee et al., 2008; Kohrt et al., 2014). Tension is often defined in terms of physical symptoms, although a recent study has found affective, cognitive, and somatic symptoms associated with tension (Weaver, 2017).  It is caused by psychosocial stressors, which may include gender-based violence (GBV). Indian women who experience GBV are more likely to experience poorer mental health (Kumar, Jeyaseelan, Suresh & Ahuja, 2005). Although tension emerged as a prominent idiom of distress, the explanatory model of tension (i.e., its phenomenology, causes, and help-seeking) remains unknown among trauma-exposed women.


The present study examined the ethno-semantics of tension among trauma-exposed women in an Indian slum. Qualitative semi-structured interviews based on the Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC; Weiss, 1997) were administered to 47 women in Bombay, India. Two coders qualitatively coded the nature of tension, its perceived causes, and help-seeking/coping strategies. Results indicated tension constitutes cognitive (e.g., rumination), affective (e.g., fear, sadness), physiological (e.g., fatigue), and behavioral (e.g., social withdrawal) components. In-depth information will be provided regarding the causes (e.g., interpersonal conflict) of tension and coping strategies (e.g., cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal) used to reduce tension symptoms. In sum, this study presents a model of what tension is, how it is caused, and how it is coped with among trauma-exposed women.

Merdijana Kovacevic

The University of Tulsa

Anushka Patel

Graduate Student
University of Tulsa

Elana Newman

McFarlin Professor
Univeristy of Tulsa