Somatic Symptoms Mediate the Relationship Between Trauma During the Arab Spring and Quality of Life Among Tunisians

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Abstract

This study examined the relationship between peritraumatic reactions, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, somatic complaints, and quality of life in Tunisians exposed to the events of the Arab Spring. Participants (n = 60) completed an online survey 1 year after the events, assessing peritraumatic distress, peritraumatic dissociation, PTSD symptoms, somatic complaints, and physical and mental quality of life. Results showed that peritraumatic dissociation was independently associated with increased PTSD symptoms and somatic complaints 12 months after the events. Multiple mediator mediation analyses revealed that somatic complaints (not PTSD symptoms) were the only independent mediators of the relationships between peritraumatic dissociation and both physical and mental quality of life. Assessing peritraumatic dissociation soon after trauma exposure among the North African population might help identify individuals at risk for PTSD. Furthermore, the impact of trauma on quality of life may be better explained by somatic complaints than PTSD symptoms among North Africans.

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