Posttraumatic Stress, Somatization, and Quality of Life Among Ivorian Refugees

Author(s): Kossi B. KOUNOU ; Fabrice BRODARD ; Afèignindou GNASSINGBE ; Ayoko A. DOGBE FOLI ; Julia C. SAGER ; Laurent SCHMITT ; Eric BUI


The present study examined the relationship between peritraumatic reactions, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, somatization, and quality of life (QoL) in a sample of refugees, two years after the 2011 Ivory Coast sociopolitical crisis. Participants were 101 Ivorian adult refugees (mean age = 31.61 years, SD = 7.84; 45.5% women) who completed several questionnaires relating to peritraumatic reactions, PTSD symptoms, somatization, and QoL. Most participants (86.1%) scored above the cutoff for probable PTSD. Peritraumatic dissociation and peritraumatic distress were significantly associated with PTSD symptoms, (r = .64, p < .001) and (r = .60, p < .001), respectively, and somatization, (r = .21, p = .038) and (r = .35, p < .001), respectively, as well as with QoL, (r = –.20, p = .045) and (r = –.21, p = .037), respectively. Similarly, QoL was significantly negatively correlated with PTSD symptoms (r = −.33, p < .001) and somatization (r = −.39, p < .001). In multivariate analyses, somatization was the strongest predictor of QoL (β = −.31, p = .003). Finally, somatization statistically mediated the association between peritraumatic distress and QoL. These findings suggest that PTSD may be frequent among Ivorian refugees, and that somatization may be an important feature of the traumatic experiences. Targeting somatization in conjunction with trauma-centered therapy may improve outcomes in sub-Saharan Africans with PTSD.

Tags: Côte d’Ivoire, Refugees, PTSD, Somatisation

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