Severe war trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder in adolescents with sensory impairments: a cross-sectional study

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Khuzama Hijal Shaar *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Khuzama Hijal Shaar | edumh105@hotmail.com

Abstract

A paucity of studies of the psychological status of adolescents with sensory impairments in political conflict areas is noted. This study was set up to examine the exposure of adolescents with sensory impairments (ASIs) to severe war trauma and development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as compared to their able-bodied peers (ABPs). It also answers the question whether their impairments have made them more resilient in facing traumatic events. A cross-sectional study of all ASIs attending special schools in three administrative districts in Lebanon (n=166) as well as a group of 166 age and sex-matched ABPs from neighboring schools was conducted. The Post Traumatic Stress Reaction Checklist for children (PTSRC) was used to assess exposure to severe trauma, PTSD and their determinants. ASIs reported a lower exposure to severe traumatic events (24.1%) as compared to their ABPs (69.9%), and risk factors for their exposure were an older age group, a fatherless family, and severe visual impairment. Prevalence rates for PTSD were similar in the two study groups (17.5% and 16.4%). Younger ASIs were at a significantly higher risk of developing PTSD. Lower exposure to trauma among ASIs points to the more sheltered life that they lead. Given the same exposure as ABPs, similar rates of PTSD are noted among the two study groups. This may indicate that having a sensory impairment may protect from PTSD due to decreased exposure to severe trauma and not due to increased resilience of subjects.

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