Acculturation and Psychological Problems of Adolescents from Bosnia and Herzegovina during Exile and Repatriation

Hasanović, Mevludin; Sinanović, Osman; Pavlović, Slobodan
February 2005
Croatian Medical Journal;2005, Vol. 46 Issue 1, p105
Academic Journal
Aim: To estimate the frequency, type, and severity of psychological trauma among Bosnian refugee adolescents during the process of repatriation after the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Methods: A sample of 239 pupils (120 girls and 119 boys), with a mean age (±standard deviation) of 15.2±2.1 years were assessed for war traumatic events, acculturation and repatriation maladjustments, school behavioral problems, and presence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The sample consisted of adolescents who were in the process of repatriation after exile in a foreign country (n=120) and internally displaced adolescents (n=119). Results: Adolescents who had been exposed to severe psychological war trauma still had high level of trauma more than three years after the end of war. The level of recalling traumas they experienced (mean±standard deviation=3.9±1.2 on a scale from 0 to 5) and frequency of PTSD symptoms (1.5±1.0 on a scale from 0-5) were significantly lower among repatriated than internally displaced adolescents (4.4 ±0.7 and 2.2±1.1,respectively; P<0.001). The prevalence of PTSD did not differ between repatriated (56.7%) and internally displaced adolescents (68.1%). Returnees with more acculturation problems reported more functional and relational problems after return but less psycho-emotional dysfunctions. Those who adapted to the culture in the exile country had difficulties in adapting back to the culture in the home country. Conclusions: PTSD was still very frequent among Bosnian refugee adolescents 3.5 years after the end of war. Adolescents who had spent more than five years as refugees in foreign countries had significantly lower level of experienced trauma recall and frequency of PTSD symptoms, as well as less anxious/depressed and withdrawn/depressed behavioral problems, and somatic complaints. Returnees who had more acculturation problems in exile reported more functional and relational...


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