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J Trauma Stress. 1998 Jul;11(3):571-7.

Responses to civilian war experiences: predictors of psychological functioning and coping.

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  • 1Guatemala Support Network, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


This study investigated civilian war trauma in Central American refugees, focusing on the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as related to war experience and demographic characteristics. Sixty eight percent of the refugees met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Diagnosis was best predicted by number of war experiences, severity of war trauma and level of anxiety/depression. Higher numbers of war experiences predicted PTSD severity, as did involvement in the legalization process, parenthood, and being a citizen of El Salvador. In examining the PTSD symptom cluster scores, it was found that number of war experiences was a significant predictor in all clusters. These results are helpful in increasing our knowledge about the role of war experiences in civilian PTSD and the unique situation of the Central American refugees.

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