Category: Cultural Diversity / Vulnerable Populations

Symposium

Understanding Trauma in Situations of Ongoing Adversity: Implications for Treatment Development

Saturday, November 18
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Aqua Salon C & D, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Trauma | Risk / Vulnerability Factors
Presentation Type: Symposium

Background: Conflict driven forced displacement is linked to the increased burden of mental disorders in affected populations (Porter & Haslam, 2005). As a result of the 26-year civil war in Sri Lanka, families and communities were uprooted from familiar ecological contexts. Many have experienced not only direct exposure to violence but also secondary traumatic events associated with displacement such as loss of community, lengthy and dangerous journeys, and inadequate resources or shelter (APA, 2010). Applying the daily stressors model (Fernando, Miller & Berger, 2010), this study sought to understand the mediating and moderating factors at multiple levels that might influence the relationship between ongoing stressors and the maintenance of trauma in return migrants.


Methods: Quantitative data collection from 1025 adults (male=484; female=541) was recently completed and data preparation is in progress. The mean age was 53 (SD=10), with a range of 18-89. Participants were recruited through primary healthcare clinics in the northern provinces of Sri Lanka and completed a package of measures, including comprehensive demographic and displacement history questionnaires and the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. Measures have been validated for use with the Sri Lankan population.


Results & Implications: Baseline results show high rates of PTSD in this population (17.15%, n=176). In line with the daily stressors model, preliminary analysis indicates the presentation of trauma symptoms differs, depending on age at displacement and is moderated by other variables such as family structure, education/employment interruption, participation in the conflict, and loss of property upon return. Understanding how demographic and displacement history variables play a role in the maintenance of trauma can inform interventions for communities in post-conflict settings. A model specification of relations among theoretical variables will be presented. Using a daily stressors framework of trauma, future research and programs can holistically combat the consequences of war through multiple points of interventions that are responsive to the complex nature of war-related stressors.

Fiona Thomas

Doctoral student
Ryerson University

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