Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and Depression Symptoms, and Psychosocial Treatment Needs in Colombians Internally Displaced by Armed Conflict: A Mixed-Method Evaluation

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Abstract

Armed conflict in Colombia has resulted in the displacement of an estimated 4.5 million people, or about 10% of the Colombian population. Hundreds of thousands of Colombians are exposed to violence and forced displacement annually. The present study used survey methods to assess levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety symptoms in a convenience sample of 109 internally displaced adults residing in Medellín, Colombia. A qualitative approach including an open-ended survey and focus groups with a subsample of 44 survey respondents was used to gain a better understanding of mental health treatment needs. A large proportion of survey respondents exceeded cut-scores for clinically significant PTSD (88%), anxiety (59%), and depression (41%). Multivariate regression models showed that female gender was a significant predictor of higher PTSD symptom levels and that female gender, higher education, and being separated as opposed to married predicted higher levels of depression symptoms. Focus group findings suggest that participants are interested in specialized psychological treatments as well as broader psychosocial interventions to treat the consequences of exposure to violence and forced displacement.

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