Neuropsychiatric Investigation
Original Article

Self-reported Trauma Experiences Among Syrian Civilians in an Active War Zone

1.

Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, NY, USA

2.

Department of Biology, Gaziantep University, Gaziantep, Türkiye

3.

Critical Incident Management Response Organization (CIMRO), Toronto, Canada

Neuropsychiatric Investigation 2024; 62: 45-54
DOI: 10.5152/NI.2024.23023
Read: 1053 Downloads: 220 Published: 25 June 2024

Objective: The Syrian civil war produced at least 6.8 million internally displaced persons but estimates of the prevalence of war-related traumatic experiences among the civilian population in hard-to-reach areas of Syria are sparse. This study aimed to determine prevalence of these experiences, stratify the data by gender and age, and estimate probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevalence rates from self-reported symptoms.

Methods: This is an observational cohort study using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire, Syrian version, with data collected in Northern Syria from a sample of 142 Syrian civilians ages 12-70, recruited by chain referral.

Results: In total, 109 adults (age (SD)=33.1 (10.2); range: 18-70; 36 females) and 33 minors (age (SD)=14.6 (1.7); range: 12-17; 3 females) participated in the study. War-related experiences included forced displacement, air strikes, head injury, and starvation. We estimate that 70% of adults and 85% of minors reported trauma symptom severity consistent with probable PTSD. Overall, 31% of the population experienced beatings to the head and 18% associated loss of consciousness. Adult males reported beatings to the head more frequently than females. Minors reported head injuries from explosions and other sources resulting in subsequent loss of consciousness more frequently than adults.

Conclusion: War-related experiences are common but vary in symptoms and causes by sex and age. This information may help international relief organizations planning mental health and neurological treatment approaches in a post-war Syria and be useful to mental health care professionals in host countries to appreciate the stratified trauma histories of Syrian refugees.

Cite this article as: Canli T, Alassil B, Cameron M. Self-reported trauma experiences among Syrian civilians in an active war zone. Neuropsychiatr Invest. 2024;62(2):45-54.

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