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BMC Psychiatry ; 20(1): 17, 2020 Jan 10.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31924182


BACKGROUND: The wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo have left indelible marks on the mental health and functioning of the Congolese civilians that sought refuge in Uganda. Even though it is clear that civilians who are exposed to potentially traumatizing events in war and conflict areas develop trauma-related mental health problems, scholarly information on gender differences on exposure to different war-related traumatic events, their conditional risks to developing PTSD and whether the cumulative exposure to traumatic events affects men and women differently is still scanty. METHODS: In total, 325 (n = 143 males, n = 182 females) Congolese refugees who lived in Nakivale, a refugee settlement in the Southwestern part of Uganda were interviewed within a year after their arrival. Assessment included exposure to war-related traumatic events, and DSM-IV PTSD symptom severity. RESULTS: Our main findings were that refugees were highly exposed to war-related traumatic events with experiencing dangerous flight as the most common event for both men (97%) and women (97%). The overall high prevalence of PTSD differed among women (94%) and men (84%). The highest conditional prevalence of PTSD in women was associated with experiencing rape. The dose-response effect differed significantly between men and women with women showing higher PTSD symptom severity when experiencing low and moderate levels of potentially traumatizing event types. CONCLUSION: In conflict areas, civilians are highly exposed to different types of war-related traumatic events that expose them to high levels of PTSD symptoms, particularly women. Interventions focused at reducing mental health problems resulting from war should take the context of gender into consideration.

Trials ; 19(1): 364, 2018 Jul 09.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29986761


BACKGROUND: Latest research demonstrates a significant improvement in stress-related symptoms in psychological disorders as a result of exercise training (ET). Controlled clinical trials further validate the significance of ET by demonstrating lower salivary cortisol levels in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after intervention. A significant change in cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels can already be found after an 8-12-week ET program. The proposed study aims to investigate the impact of an 8-week ET on PTSD symptoms and changes in cortisol levels in a juvenile refugee sample from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at an Ugandan refugee settlement. It is the first to implement an ET intervention in a resource-poor, post-conflict setting. METHODS/DESIGN: In a randomized controlled trial, 198 adolescent participants aged 13-16 years from the DRC who, suffer from PTSD, will be investigated. The participants are based at the Nakivale refugee settlement, an official refugee camp in Uganda, Africa, which is among the largest in the world. The participants will be randomized into an Exercise Training (ET) group with a maximum heart rate (HRmax) of > 60%, an Alternative Intervention (AI) group with low-level exercises, and a Waiting-list Control (WC) group. After the 8-week interventional phase, changes in cortisol awakening response (CAR) and DHEA in the ET group that correspond to an improvement in PTSD symptoms are expected that remain at follow-up after 3 months. DISCUSSION: To date, there is no controlled and reliable longitudinal study examining the effects of an ET program on symptom severity in individuals with PTSD that can be explained with a harmonization of cortisol secretion. The presented study design introduces an intervention that can be implemented with little expenditure. It aims to provide a promising low-threshold and cost-effective treatment approach for the application in resource-poor settings. TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Trials Register, ID: DRKS00014280 . Registered prospectively on 15 March 2018.

Terapia por Exercício , Hidrocortisona/sangue , Ensaios Clínicos Controlados Aleatórios como Assunto , Refugiados , Transtornos de Estresse Pós-Traumáticos/terapia , Adolescente , Desidroepiandrosterona/sangue , Comitês de Ética Clínica , Exercício , Humanos , Sistema Hipotálamo-Hipofisário/fisiologia , Sistema Hipófise-Suprarrenal/fisiologia , Projetos de Pesquisa , Transtornos de Estresse Pós-Traumáticos/sangue , Resultado do Tratamento
Eur J Psychotraumatol ; 8(1): 1283086, 2017.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28326164


Background: In the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), civilians have been heavily exposed to traumatic stressors. Traumatizing experiences cumulatively heighten the risk for trauma-related disorders, and with it affect cognitive and psycho-social functioning. Objectives: We aimed at investigating the association between trauma-related disorders and cognitive and psycho-social functioning and hypothesized that PTSD symptom severity would negatively correlate with executive functioning, working memory and psycho-social functioning in everyday life. Method: In total, 323 Congolese refugees (mean age: 31.3 years) who arrived in the Ugandan Nakivale refugee settlement after January 2012 were assessed regarding their exposure to traumatic events, PTSD symptom severity (posttraumatic symptom scale interview), executive functioning (Tower of London), working memory performance (Corsi block tapping task) and psycho-social dysfunctioning (Luo functioning scale). Results: Hierarchical regression analyses indicated a significant negative association between PTSD symptom severity and working memory (ß = -0.32, p < 0.001), as well as executive functions (ß = -0.19, p = 0.003). Furthermore, the impairment of psycho-social functioning in everyday life was positively related with PTSD symptom severity (ß = 0.70, p < 0.001), and negatively with executive functioning (ß = -0.15, p = 0.003). However, working memory performance was not significantly related to psycho-social dysfunctioning (ß = 0.09, p > 0.05). Conclusion: Trauma survivors not only suffer from the core PTSD symptoms but also from impaired cognitive functioning. PTSD symptom severity seems furthermore to be related to impaired psycho-social functioning. Our findings suggest that trauma-related mental health problems may heighten the risk for poverty and lack of prospect and further aggravate the consequences of war and conflict.