Neuroticism and posttraumatic stress disorder in Bosnian internally displaced and refugee adolescents from three different regions after the 1992-1995 Bosnia-Herzegovina war

Mevludin Hasanović

Abstract

Objective - To estimate neuroticism and its relationship with psychological trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among BosniaHerzegovina (BH) refugee and internally displaced adolescents after the 1992-1995 war.

Subjects and methods - A sample of 217 pupils (108 females and 109 males) aged 15.1±2.1 years was divided into three groups from the north-eastern BH regions: Srebrenica (n=69), Zvornik (n=79), and Bijeljina (n=69), who were exposed to the trauma of the 1992-1995 war and became refugees or internally displaced persons for the duration of the whole war and after it were evaluated for assessment of war trauma, the presence of PTSD, neuroticism, and its associations. Data collection took place in June 1999 in the classrooms of the adolescents’ schools, with the written permission of the Tuzla Canton Ministry for Culture, Sport and Education.

Results - Srebrenica pupils were significantly more introverted. The prevalence of PTSD differed statistically significantly between the groups: Srebrenica (73.9%), Zvornik (60.8%) and Bijeljina (47.6%)(Chi-square=9.854, df=2, p=0.007). The PTSD prevalence, PTSD symptoms and social dysfunction were the most severe in Srebrenica, then in Zvornik and finally in the Bijeljina group. In the Srebrenica group neuroticism was significantly associated with PTSD cluster symptoms and problems in social functioning. Adolescents with PTSD, in all three groups and in the whole sample, were more neurotic. Loss of father significantly increased introversion of the adolescents in all three groups, and decreased the adolescents’ sociability in Zvornik and Bijeljina.

Conclusions - Refugee and internally displaced adolescents from Bosnia-Herzegovina suffered very frequently from PTSD 3.5 years after war. The PTSD prevalence is highly reported and differed significantly between groups. PTSD associated positively with neuroticism and introversion. Loss of father significantly increased the adolescents’ introversion in all three groups, and it decreased the adolescents’ sociability in Zvornik and Bijeljina.

Keywords

Bosnia-Herzegovina; Adolescents; Refugees; Neuroticism; PTSD

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