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Case series: PTSD symptoms in adolescent survivors of "ethnic cleansing." Results from a 1-year follow-up study.

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Yale Psychiatric Institute, New Haven, CT, USA.



The authors describe the psychiatric sequelae of "ethnic cleansing" in adolescent Bosnian refugees, via a 1-year follow-up study.


Ten Bosnian adolescent refugees from the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina received a baseline assessment within the first year after their resettlement and a follow-up assessment 1 year later. Evaluations included an assessment scale for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity.


At baseline, 3 subjects met criteria for PTSD. At follow-up, this diagnosis persisted in none of these subjects, though 1 subject met criteria at follow-up only. For the group, mean PTSD severity scores at baseline and at follow-up were 8.9 and 4.0, respectively. At baseline, reexperiencing symptoms were present 43% of the time, avoidance symptoms were present 33% of the time, and hyperarousal symptoms were present 33% of the time; at follow-up, these proportions were 35%, 16%, and 18%, respectively.


Overall, rates of PTSD symptoms diminished during the 1-year follow-up interval, suggesting that they may be transient and not representative of enduring psychopathology. This finding may reflect the relative resiliency of adolescents, as well as a variety of factors that facilitated adaptation in our particular group of adolescent refugees.

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