The impact of exposure to war and terror on individuals with disabilities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Exposure to war or to a terror event is associated with mental health problems among the general population; however, less is known about its impact on people with lifelong disabilities. Objective: The aim of the present study was to determine the impact of war and terror on people with lifelong physical and sensory disabilities. Method: Self-report questionnaires assessing exposure to war or terror, history of traumatic life events, presence of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), and depression symptoms were used to compare PTSS and depression symptoms among individuals with lifelong disabilities, who had been exposed to war or to terror events, individuals without disabilities exposed to war or to terror events, and individuals with disabilities without such exposure (N = 438). Results: The findings indicated that individuals with lifelong disabilities, who had been exposed to war or terror events, were at higher risk for developing PTSS (95% CI [-13.189,-6.60]), but not depression symptoms (95% CI [5.007, 13.173]). PTSS was predicted by previous traumatic events, the presence of disability, and exposure to war (R 2 = .12). In addition, within the disability groups, previous traumatic events did not predict any depressive symptoms. Conclusions: In times of political threat, a lifelong disability is a risk factor for elevated stress-related symptomatology but not for depressive symptoms. The findings emphasize the need to be aware of the effects of life-threatening situations on vulnerable groups, such as people with lifelong disabilities, and to provide services to reduce the level of distress among this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • Disability
  • PTSD
  • Terrorism
  • Trauma
  • War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology

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