Predeployment Mental Health and Trauma Exposure of Expatriate Humanitarian Aid Workers: Risk and Resilience Factors

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Expatriate aid workers (n = 214) representing 19 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) completed a predeployment survey, including measures of mental health (depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD]); risk factors (childhood trauma, family risk, and adult trauma exposure); and resilience factors (coping, social support, and healthy lifestyle) to assess their baseline mental health during preparation for deployment. Multiple regression analysis indicated that childhood trauma/family risk was not significantly related to depression, anxiety, or PTSD symptoms when controlling for report of prior mental illness; yet, adult trauma exposure was significantly related to all three. Social support contributed significant variance to depression and PTSD. NGOs can help applicants recognize the effects of recent trauma and the resilience provided by a healthy social network.

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