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J Trauma Stress. 2010 Jun;23(3):313-21. doi: 10.1002/jts.20527.

Sense of coherence and its association with exposure to traumatic events, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Human Rights Center and School of Public Health, University of California-Berkeley and Payson Center for International Development, Tulane University, USA.


The Democratic Republic of Congo is the scene of some of the worst atrocities in recent history. However, in the face of traumatic experience, only a minority of people develops symptoms that impair their functioning. The sense of coherence proposed by Antonovsky (1987) is a theoretical construct reflecting an individual's overall wellbeing and ability to cope with stress. This study explores the relationships between sense of coherence, exposure to traumatic events, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. Results suggest an association between a high sense of coherence and high education levels, high income, and positive social relationships. Furthermore, the study found that sense of coherence is inversely correlated with cumulative exposure to violence and symptoms of PTSD and depression.

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