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Volume 45 Number 3, 2008
   Pages 421 — 426

Abstract - Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in Bosnian refugees 3 1/2 years after resettlement

Dolores Vojvoda, MD;1-2* Stevan M. Weine, MD;3 Thomas McGlashan, MD;1 Daniel F. Becker, MD;4 Steven M. Southwick, MD1-2

1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; 2National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Clinical Neuroscience Division, Department of Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT; 3Project on Genocide, Psychiatry, and Witnessing, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at
Chicago, IL; 4Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA

Abstract —  This study describes the evolution of trauma-related symptoms over 3 1/2 years in a group of Bosnian refugees. Twenty-one refugees received standardized psychological assessments shortly after arriving in the United States and then 1 year and 3 1/2 years later. Of these refugees, 76% met diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at baseline, 33% at 1 year, and 24% at 3 1/2 years. PTSD severity scores in women refugees were higher than scores in men at all three evaluation time points. At the 3 1/2-year evaluation, 44% of women and 8% of men met criteria for PTSD and no correlation was found between PTSD symptom severity and either age or level of trauma exposure. A significant inverse correlation was found between Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scores and PTSD severity scores. Refugees who reported better mastery of the English language had significantly higher GAF scores. Although PTSD symptom severity decreased over time, most refugees continued to have at least one or more trauma-related symptoms and 24% still met criteria for PTSD after 3 1/2 years in the United States. Women refugees and those who had not mastered the English language appeared to be more vulnerable to persisting psychological effects of trauma.

Key words: age, anxiety, Bosnia, English, GAF, longitudinal course, PTSD, refugees, sex, trauma.

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