Back to Annual Meeting
Back to Annual Meeting
APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Predictors of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder among torture survivors in the United States

Ameena T. Ahmed, MD, MPH, Nadia Taylor, Melissa Gunn, and Michelle Levin. Survivors International, 703 Market Street, Suite 301, San Francisco, CA 94103, (510) 891-3754, atahmed@cal.berkeley.edu

An estimated 500,000 torture survivors live in the United States. Torture survivors have a high prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). The purpose of this study was to identify predictors of PTSD and MDD among torture survivors in the U.S.

A standardized intake questionnaire was administered to 400 adult torture survivors evaluated consecutively over three years at Survivors International (San Francisco, CA). The questionnaire collected information on demographics, history, social and environmental stressors, and physical health. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were assessed with the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist-25 and symptoms of PTSD with the PTSD Checklist. Odds of PTSD and depression were determined in univariate models.

Seventy-one percent of the torture survivors had PTSD and 85% had MDD. Predictors (Table) of both PTSD and MDD (p<0.05) included not living in one's own home; physical health “poor”; pain; permanent physical injury resulting from torture; lacking access to psychological care; and dependence on others for financial support. Predictors of only PTSD included separation from all family members; literacy in one's native language; and having family members who were physically attacked. Predictors of only MDD included unsafe neighborhood, lacking access to medical care; and difficulty obtaining food, clothing, or housing.

Many of the predictors of psychological symptoms among torture survivors are current social or economic factors that are amenable to intervention. In addition to providing medical care, those who care for torture survivors can best meet their needs by securing access to needed social support and economic opportunity.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Torture, Refugees

Related Web page: www.survivorsintl.org

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Mental Health, Women's Rights, and Overlooked Populations

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA