Posttraumatic stress disorder among women after the war in Sarajevo: a rationale for genetic study.
Keywords:PTSD, women, war trauma, risk factors, trauma exposure time, physical abuse, genetics
An exposure to extreme trauma events leads to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in up to 14-50% of war survivors. Recent findings suggest that genetic factors could play a certain role in PTSD development. In order to illustrate this possibility, we present results of a pilot study on gender specific sample of Sarajevo civilians immediately after the war cessation. During the period 1992-1995, Sarajevo civilians experienced continuous life threatening events with a great risk of developing PTSD in such conditions.
Our study included 100 women adjusted to same socio-demographic characteristics. All women were interviewed using Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ) and divided into two groups (domestic and returnees) according to exposure length to extreme war life events of six or forty-three months. Above 50% of total analysed sample fulfilled criteria for PTSD. Regarding duration in trauma exposure no significant difference between these two groups were found. The only significant predictor found was physical abuse (p>0.01) that still cannot explain why some women develop PTSD while others not.
Several years after the war, PTSD frequencies are decreased and disorder became chronic and more severe. However, the PTSD prevalence remains high when compared to general population rates. Therefore, Sarajevo population being exposed for almost four years to extreme war life events represents unique model for comparative research on PTSD etiology within the light of latest findings in molecular genetics of PTSD.