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Gender, Social Support, and Posttraumatic Stress in Postwar Kosovo

Ahern, Jennifer MPH*; Galea, Sandro MD, DrPH*†; Fernandez, William G. MD, MPH†‡; Koci, Bajram MD, MS§; Waldman, Ronald MD, MPH; Vlahov, David PhD*†

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: November 2004 - Volume 192 - Issue 11 - p 762-770
doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000144695.02982.41
Original Articles

The effects of social support and traumatic experiences on mental health in conflict situations may be different by gender. The Kosovo Emergency Department Study was conducted in July and August 2001 to assess mental health 2 years after the end of the war in Kosovo. Of 306 emergency department patients (87.7% response rate), all were ethnic Albanian, 97.4% had experienced traumatic events, and 89.5% had posttraumatic stress symptoms. Women and persons who experienced more traumatic events had higher posttraumatic stress scores. Persons with social support had lower posttraumatic stress scores. In a final model, social support had a greater protective effect for women, whereas traumatic events had a greater detrimental effect on men. Two years after the war in Kosovo, there remained a high prevalence of posttraumatic stress symptoms, particularly among women with low social support. Interventions targeting social support may be important public health efforts in the postwar context.

*Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine, New York, New York; †Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York; ‡Division of Emergency Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York; and §Department of Anesthesia, Section of Emergency Medicine, University of Pristina Medical Center, Pristina, Kosovo.

Supported in part by a development grant from the Program on Forced Migration, Heilbrunn Center for Population and Family Health, Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.

Send reprint requests to Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH, Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 5th Avenue, Room 553, New York, NY 10029.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.