The association between perceived social support and posttraumatic stress symptoms among Eritrean and Sudanese male asylum seekers in Israel

Author(s): Ora NAKASH ; Maayan NAGAR ; Anat SHOSHANI, Ido LURIE


We investigated the combined effect of the severity of exposure to traumatic events and perceived social support on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among male asylum seekers in Israel. A convenience sample of 90 men who sought asylum from Eritrea and Sudan and presented at the Open-Clinic in Tel-Aviv, Israel, participated in the study. Participants completed measures assessing exposure to traumatic events, perceived social support and PTSD symptoms in their native language. The majority of participants had been exposed to traumatic events. Lack of shelter, ill health without access to medical care, imprisonment and torture were most prevalent. Perceived social support was associated with lower PTSD symptoms only among those who reported low exposure to traumatic events. Among asylees who reported high exposure to traumatic events, social support did not affect the association between exposure to traumatic events and PTSD symptoms. Our findings show that perceived social support serves as a significant moderator in the relationship between exposure to traumatic events and PTSD symptoms among asylum seekers, depending on the severity of exposure to traumatic events. The complex relationship between protective factors such as perceived social support, exposure to trauma and mental health should inform mental health services for forced migrants.

KEYWORDS: asylum seekersEritreaSudanposttraumatic stresssocial supporttrauma

Tags: Eritrea, Sudan, Israel, Asylum seekers, PTSD, Traumatic life events, Social support

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