Attentional Bias Dynamics and Posttraumatic Stress in Survivors of Violent Conflict and Atrocities : New Directions in Clinical Psychological Science of Refugee Mental Health

Author(s): Kim YUVAL ; Ariel ZVIELLI ; Amit BERNSTEIN


Survivors of violent conflict and atrocities, forcibly displaced persons (FDPs) are at risk for trauma-related mental health problems. Experimental clinical research key to the development of interventions tailored to FDPs is limited. We examined relations among attentional bias (AB) to trauma cues, posttraumatic stress symptom (PTS) severity, and behavioral avoidance of exposure to trauma-related stimuli. A total of 110 Sudanese male asylum seekers (age M = 32.7, SD = 6.5) were recruited from the community in Israel. AB temporal dynamics significantly predicted levels of PTS as well as behavioral avoidance of exposure to trauma stimuli specifically. No effects were observed when AB was quantified traditionally as an aggregated mean representing a static trait. Findings demonstrate the potential role of AB dynamics in PTS among FDPs, help disambiguate extant mixed findings between AB and PTS, and suggest that cognitive bias modification targeting AB dynamics may be a promising new direction for FDP mental health research.
Tags: Displaced persons, FDP, Trauma, PTSD, Asylum seekers

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