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J Trauma Stress Disord Treat. 2013 Aug 27;2(3):1340.

Gender Differences in Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms among Displaced Zimbabweans in South Africa.

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North West University, South Africa.
University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
Jacobs University Bremen, Germany.



Over the years, more than 3.4 million Zimbabweans (a quarter of the country's population) have fled the country to other countries with South Africa as the main popular destination. In South Africa, they become a vulnerable group with the plausibility of suffering trauma and PTSS or PTSD due to xenophobic attacks and resentment. How males and females are impacted is undocumented in psychological literature, particularly with regards to Africa. In addition, global research on gender differences, trauma and PTSS/PTSD are inconclusive. This paper explores gender differences in PTSS among displaced Zimbabweans in South Africa. A poor mental health status, pre and post-migration traumas of men and women were hypothesized to have a relationship with PTSS for women, but not to the same extent for men.


Through a guided purposive convenient sampling, in-depth interviews using questionnaires, data were obtained from a sample of 125 displaced and homeless Zimbabwean refugees in Polokwane, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Participants were assessed on demographic variables, pre- and post-migration difficulties checklists, mental health using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) and the PTSD Checklist (Civilian Version (PCL).


The hypothesis of a gender difference in the predictability of PTSD was tested in structural equation models. For men none of the three paths (pre-migration stress, post-migration stress, and poor mental health) on PTSD is significant, whereas for women both the path from poor mental health onto PTSD (ß=.36, p=.013) are significant, but the size of the gender differences was modest. However, effect sizes are always larger for women than they are for men.


The findings help closing the gap in PTSS/PTSD research for Africans and suggest that indeed likely gender differences in the prediction of PTSS, suggested in the literature, needs further attention.


Gender differences; PTSD/PTSS; Trauma; Zimbabweans

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