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6th International Congress of the WIAMH

Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 13 – 15, 1999.

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS REACTION IN THE CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS OF SARAJEVO

Syed Arshad HUSAIN

Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri 65212, USA

To study the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive symptoms in children and adolescents exposed to the siege conditions in Sarajevo in relationship to their gender, age, loss of family members, the perceived need of the essentials of daily living such as food, shelter, water and clothes and exposure to shooting. In April of 1994 the author went to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and collected data on 791 children (ages 6-15) in a district’s school. The scales included Children Posttraumatic Stress Reaction Index, Impact of Event Inventory and a general information questionnaire. All scales were translated into Bosnian language and retranslated into English by an independent translator for accuracy. To meet the DSM IV criteria, the two scales were combined for analysis. Chi-square analyses and Wilcoxin signed rank tests were used for analysis. Girls reported significantly more symptoms than boys in both re-experiencing did, as well as avoidance items. There was no difference in the earlier and later age groups in the percentage of individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms. Loss of family members was associated with significantly more re-experiencing, avoidance, depressive symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder. Need of food, water, clothes and shelter was associated with more symptoms. Contrary to expectations, the experience of sniper shooting did not relate to more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. On base of the results it was concluded that youngsters who lost family members or experienced basic deprivation had more PTSD than those who did not. The unique conditions in Sarajevo may be the reason for the result that exposure to sniper and shooting was not associated with more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Key words: Siege conditions – Children – Sarajevo – PTSD – Depressive symptoms

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