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Does PTSD transcend cultural barriers? A study from the Khmer Adolescent Refugee Project.

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  • 1Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland 97201, USA.



To determine whether the factor structure of the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) syndrome in Cambodian refugee youth resembles earlier reported factor studies in Caucasian samples.


194 Khmer adolescent refugees who reported prior significant trauma (most of it massive war trauma as children) were administered the PTSD module of the Diagnostic interview for Children and Adolescents, as part of an epidemiological study on the effects of war on this group of refugees.


The following four factors were found: arousal, avoidance, intrusion, and numbing. A confirmatory factor analysis using data from the parents of this sample yielded a good fit for the four-factor solution based on the youth data.


The four-factor solution from this sample resembled earlier studies on traumatized Caucasian and African-American adults. These results lend further credibility to the veracity of this diagnosis with refugee samples. PTSD as a result of prior war trauma appears to surmount the barriers of culture and language in this sample.

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