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Patterns of somatic distress among conflict-affected persons in the Republic of Georgia

Comellas, Ruben Moreno, Makhashvili, Nino, Chikovani, Ivdity, Patel, Vikram, McKee, Martin, Bisson, Jonathan Ian and Roberts, Bayard 2015. Patterns of somatic distress among conflict-affected persons in the Republic of Georgia. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 78 (5) , pp. 466-471. 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2015.01.015

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Background There are substantial risk factors for somatic distress (SD) among civilian populations affected by armed conflict in low and middle income countries. However, the evidence is very limited. Our aim was to examine patterns of SD among conflict-affected persons in the Republic of Georgia, which has over 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the wars over separatists regions in the 1990s and with Russia in 2008. Methods A cross-sectional household survey was conducted with 3600 randomly selected IDPs and former IDPs (returnees). SD was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-15). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and disability were measured using the Trauma Screening Questionnaire, Patient Health Questionnaire 9, Generalised Anxiety Disorder 7, and WHO Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0, respectively. Descriptive, tetrachoric and multivariate regression analyses were used. Results Forty-two percent of respondents (29% men; 48% women) were recorded as at risk of SD (PHQ-15 score > 5). In tetrachoric analysis, SD scores were highly correlated with depression (r = 0.60; p < 0.001), PTSD (r = 0.54; p < 0.001), and anxiety (r = 0.49; p < 0.001). Factors significantly associated with SD in the multivariate regression analysis were depression, PTSD, anxiety, individual trauma event exposure, cumulative trauma exposure, female gender, older age, bad household economic status, and being a returnee compared to an IDP. SD was also associated with increased levels of functional disability (b = 6.73; p < 0.001). Conclusions The high levels of SD among IDPs and returnees in Georgia indicate significant suffering. The findings have implications for both mental and physical health services in Georgia.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Georgia; Mental; Somatic distress; War; Armed conflict; Forced displacement; Internally displaced
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0022-3999
Date of Acceptance: 30 January 2015
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2019 08:09

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