Psychological Disturbances of War-traumatized Children from Different Foster and Family Settings in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Hasanović, Mevludin; Sinanović, Osman; Selimbašić, Zihnet; Pajević, Izet; Avdibegović, Esmina
February 2006
Croatian Medical Journal;2006, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p85
Academic Journal
Aim To assess the psychological health of war-traumatized children in different foster settings and compare them with children living with one or both parents, 7 years after the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Method The study was carried out in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in March 2002. We assessed 186 (93 girls and 93 boys) elementary school children aged 12.7 ± 1.8 years for war trauma, presence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. There were 38 (14 girls) children from the government orphanage, 48 (24 girls) children from the non-governmental organization (NGO) SOS Children's Village, 50 (24 girls) children who lost a parent in the war but lived with the surviving parent, and 50 (31 girls) children who lived with both parents. For data collection, we used Children's Posttraumatic Stress Reaction Index and Children's Depression Inventory. Basic sociodemographic data were also collected. Results Of 186 children, 90 (48.4%) had been forced into refuge because of the war. Loss of a family member was most frequent among children in the SOS Children's Village, who also experienced the highest number of other types of trauma. PTSD was present in 51.6% of 186 children, with the highest prevalence among children in the SOS Children's Village (39/48). PTSD prevalence was higher among children who lost a parent but lived with the surviving parent (29/50) then among children in the orphanage (15/38) or children living with both parents (13/50) (χ²3 = 33.075, P<0.001). Depression was present in 42 of 186 (22.6%) children, but with no statistical difference among the groups (χ²3 = 6.337, P = 0.096). The prevalence of PTSD and depression was similar in boys and girls. Loss of a parent was associated with higher frequency of PTSD and depression. The loss of both parents was associated with high prevalence of PTSD, but not depression. Prevalence of PTSD was positively correlated with the prevalence of depression (Spearman's ρ = 0.188; P = 0.01). Conclusions All children experienced war trauma and many had psychological consequences. The highest prevalence of PTSD, often comorbid with depression, was found among children who lost one or both parents. The children with the lowest rate of psychological disturbances were those living with both parents.


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