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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004 Oct;192(10):664-71.

Determinants of postconflict symptoms in Albanian Kosovars.

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Department of Psychiatry, Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland.


During the period from 1998 to 1999, more than 1 million civilians from the province of Kosovo in the Balkans were displaced as a consequence of organized violence and war. The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of the Albanian Kosovar population more than 2 years after the end of the conflict and to assess the effect of exposure to war-related events. A total of 340 households were randomly selected among 12,900 families returned from a country of asylum (Switzerland). All adults in each household were invited to participate (N = 996). The following instruments were used: the Albanian translations of the PTSD section of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview and of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form, and a list of traumatic events adapted from the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. The overall prevalence of PTSD was 23.5%. A strong cumulative effect of trauma was observed, with odds ratios for PTSD rising steeply with the number of events to which people were exposed. After taking into account traumatic events, multivariable analysis indicated that female gender, older age, and having left Kosovo during the conflict were significantly associated with higher frequency of PTSD, whereas significant heterogeneity among municipalities was observed. Stratified analysis for people who stayed and left the province during the war suggested that different patterns of trauma may be relevant in the two subsamples, with forced separation and isolation strongly associated with PTSD in people who stayed in Kosovo. PTSD diagnosis was also significantly associated with lower scores on all dimensions of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form and lower economic status. The results suggest that responding to medium-term and long-term mental health consequences of conflict is a necessary task for the global rehabilitation of health care systems in a war devastated country.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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