Rwanda - Lasting imprints of a genocide: Trauma, mental health and psychosocial conditions in survivors, former prisoners and their children

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Abstract

Background: The 1994 genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda left about one million people dead in a period of only three months. The present study aimed to examine the level of trauma exposure, psychopathology, and risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in survivors and former prisoners accused of participation in the genocide as well as in their respective descendants. Methods. A community-based survey was conducted in four sectors of the Muhanga district in the Southern Province of Rwanda from May to July 2010. Genocide survivors (n = 90), former prisoners (n = 83) and their respective descendants were interviewed by trained local psychologists. The PTSD Symptom Scale Interview (PSS-I) was used to assess PTSD, the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-25) to assess symptoms of depression and anxiety and the relevant section of the M.I.N.I. to assess the risk for suicidality. Results: Survivors reported that they had experienced on average twelve different traumatic event types in comparison to ten different types of traumatic stressors in the group of former prisoners. According to the PSS-I, the worst events reported by survivors were mainly linked to witnessing violence throughout the period of the genocide, whereas former prisoners emphasized being physically attacked, referring to their time spent in refugee camps or to their imprisonment. In the parent generation, when compared to former prisoners, survivors indicated being more affected by depressive symptoms (M = 20.7 (SD = 7.8) versus M = 19.0 (SD = 6.4), U = 2993, p

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Rieder, H., & Elbert, T. (2013). Rwanda - Lasting imprints of a genocide: Trauma, mental health and psychosocial conditions in survivors, former prisoners and their children. Conflict and Health, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1752-1505-7-6

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