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Childhood trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder: A developmental and cross-cultural approach
Uppsala University, Medicinska vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to identify child-specific cross-cultural protecting and vulnerability factors regarding traumatic experiences and posttraumatic stress reactions. Children between 6-18 years were interviewed from three different socio-cultural backgrounds. In Iraqi Kurdistan, 20 participants in a mass-escape tragedy (MET), 54 orphans and 45 survivors of the genocide operation "Anfal" were interviewed. In Sweden, a sample of 32 Kurdistanian refugee children and a comparable Swedish sample were included. The frequencies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were 20%, 43%. 87%, 9,7% and 12.5% respectively.

The relatively low frequencies of PTSD in the follow-up sample 2 months, 4 months, 14 months and 26 months after the MET suggest the child functioning in a complete, authoritative family, as a protecting factor. The significant of this developmentally based child-specific functioning level within the supportive family system can also explain the fluctuating PTSD-related symptom scores in this sample parallel to the changes in the socio-economic situation in the region. The over time decrease in behavioural problems among fostercare orphans and their low PTSD frequencies as compared with the increase in behavioural problems and the high PTSD frequencies among orphanage samples further support this suggestion. Child trauma scores and captivity duration predicted for PTSD in "Anfal" survivors, irrespective of parents' trauma scores and PTSD or fathers re-union with the family, suggesting child-specific vulnerability more than contagion effect. Despite PTSD, children in Kurdistan performed high functioning levels, probably indicating a child-specific manifestation of hypervigilance. The Kurdistanian refugee sample revealed lower lifetime reexperiencing PTSD symptom scores than the Swedish sample, indicating a healing effect on the former coming to Sweden and a resilience deficit for the later growing up in a highly sheltered society.

There are more similarities than differences between children from Kurdistan and Sweden in reporting traumatic experiences and exhibiting posttraumatic stress symptoms. Developmentally based child characteristics have a determinant role as protective or vulnerability factors in childhood trauma and PTSD, even if socio-cultural factors also play a role.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1999. , 58 p.
Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 0282-7476 ; 874
Keyword [en]
Neurosciences, Childhood Trauma, PTSD, Resilience, Cross-Cultural, Kurdistan
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Research subject
Child and Youth Psychiatry
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-380ISBN: 91-554-4567-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-380DiVA: diva2:163732
Public defence
1999-11-26, föreläsningssalen Minus, Gustavianum, Uppsala, 13:15
Available from: 1999-11-05 Created: 1999-11-05Bibliographically approved

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