The prevalence of war-related post-traumatic stress disorder in children from Cundinamarca, Colombia

Isabel Pérez-Olmos, Patricia E. Fernández-Piñeres, Sonia Rodado-Fuentes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Determining the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to the type of war exposure and associated factors in school-aged children from three Colombian towns. METHODS: Cross-sectional epidemiological study. Representative randomised sample of 493 children aged 5-14. The children were evaluated during 2002 using semi-structured psychiatric interviews and the clinician administered PTSD scale. 167 children were evaluated in La Palma who had been chronically exposed to war, 164 in Arbeláez who had had recent war-exposure and 162 in Sopó who had not been exposed to war. War-related PTSD prevalence was calculated in each municipality. Odds ratio (OR) and chi-square were used for evaluating the association between exposure to war and PTSD and the related risk. Multivariate analysis used the logistic regression model. The affected children required specialised mental health counselling. RESULTS: The prevalence of PTSD resulting from war was 16,8 % in La Palma, 23,2 % in Arbeláez and 1.2% in Sopó. A 19.9 OR (CI 4.7, 119.2), 30,5 Chi-square and p = 0.000 revealed war-related PTSD association and risk for children when comparing the exposed towns to Sopó. The logistic regression showed that geographical closeness to war zone and intense emotional reaction to war increased the probability of war-related PTSD. Vulnerability factors were predominant in war-exposed towns. Poverty, parents' low educational level and child abuse predominated in La Palma. Attention-deficit and psychosomatic disorders were more prevalent in Arbeláez. CONCLUSIONS: War affects children's mental health; the children from the exposed towns had 19 times greater probability of war-related PTSD than those from a non-exposed town. Early therapeutic intervention is a public health priority. The results are useful for countries suffering from war, internal conflict and/or terrorism.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-280
Number of pages13
JournalRevista de salud pública (Bogotá, Colombia)
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005

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