Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

One Quarter Of Bosnian War Refugees May Be Disabled By Psychiatric Disorders

Date:
August 5, 1999
Source:
Harvard Medical School
Summary:
One in four Bosnian adults who fled the Bosnia and Herzegovina war may be functionally disabled due to psychiatric disorders, according to a study from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. The findings go well beyond simple depression and anxiety and, the researchers suggest, underline the need to address mental health issues when creating and implementing redevelopment programs in war-torn countries.

Efforts to rebuild the country's infrastructure and economy will fail without mental health resources

Related Articles


BOSTON -- July 30, 1999 -- One in four Bosnian adults who fled the Bosnia and Herzegovina war may be functionally disabled due to psychiatric disorders, according to a study from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. The findings go well beyond simple depression and anxiety and, the researchers suggest, underline the need to address mental health issues when creating and implementing redevelopment programs in war-torn countries. The study is published in the August 4 Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers surveyed 534 adults aged 18 years or older who were randomly selected from families living in a refugee camp in Varazdin, Croatia. The survey was conducted in 1996, nearly a year after the Dayton Peace Accord ended the war. The researchers found that 25.5 percent of the respondents were functionally disabled. Refugees who reported symptoms for both major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were five times more likely to report a disability than those who reported no psychiatric symptoms. After controlling for demographic characteristics and personal risk factors, such as age and exposure to traumatic events, those who reported symptoms for both major depression and PTSD were two times more likely to report a disability than those who reported no psychiatric symptoms.

Functional disability was measured using several tools, including the physical functioning scale of the Medical Outcomes Study 20-Item Short-Form Health Survey and the World Health Organization physical functioning scale.

"War and civil strife obviously affect people physically, but our study shows that there is also a mental toll that requires immediate medical treatment," explains Richard Mollica, Harvard Medical School associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. "It is critical that relief and redevelopment agencies recognize this need for mental health services. Otherwise, efforts to rebuild a country's infrastructure and economy will be hindered if a significant number of the country's citizens are disabled by psychiatric disorders."

According to the survey, the five most frequently experienced traumatic events were being present during shelling or grenade attacks, hiding from snipers, hiding outdoors, being confined to home, and being present while one's home was being searched. The most commonly reported torture event were forced standing, being placed in a sack, box or other small space, mock execution, forced witnessing of torture, and blows to the ears.

Refugees who experienced three to five traumatic events were more than two times more likely to suffer disability than were those who experience two or fewer events. However, those who experienced six or more traumatic events actually had a lower risk of being disabled than did those who experienced three to five traumatic events. The researchers speculate that a disproportionate number of those who experienced six or more events probably were combatants, as they tended to be younger, male, and have prisoner of war experience. Military training might have helped these refugees to cope with traumatic experience.

The survey also revealed that people aged 65 years and older were more than three times more likely to by functionally disabled due to psychiatric disorders than adults aged 18 to 34 years. This finding counters the widely held belief that the elderly are resilient and typically able to overcome the trauma of war and displacement.

"There are, unfortunately, dozens of countries and tens of millions of people who are currently affected by mass violence," says Mollica. "I hope our study encourages government and redevelopment agencies to view refugees' mental and emotional suffering as a significant economic problem. Then, perhaps, the appropriate resources will be dedicated to treating the refugees' psychiatric disorders."

The study was funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health and the US Agency for International Development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard Medical School. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard Medical School. "One Quarter Of Bosnian War Refugees May Be Disabled By Psychiatric Disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990805070232.htm>.
Harvard Medical School. (1999, August 5). One Quarter Of Bosnian War Refugees May Be Disabled By Psychiatric Disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990805070232.htm
Harvard Medical School. "One Quarter Of Bosnian War Refugees May Be Disabled By Psychiatric Disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990805070232.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins