Association of Exposure to Violence and Potential Traumatic Events With Self-reported Physical and Mental Health Status in the Central African Republic

Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley, 460 Stephens Hall, No. 2300, Berkeley, CA 94720-2300, USA.
JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association (Impact Factor: 35.29). 08/2010; 304(5):544-52. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2010.1065
Source: PubMed


For decades, the Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced violence, economic stagnation, and institutional failure. The latest wave of violence erupted in 2001 and continues to this day in some areas. Yet there has been little attention to the conflict and even less research to document and quantify the conflict's human cost.
To study levels of violence in CAR, including mortality levels, and the association between exposure to violence and traumatic events with self-reported physical and mental health status.
Multistage stratified cluster random survey of 1879 adults 18 years or older in selected households conducted in 5 administrative units of CAR (3 in the south, which has been free from recent violence, and 2 in the north, in which violence continues) between October and December 2009.
Mortality, morbidity, exposure to potential traumatic events, sense of insecurity, and meeting of symptom criteria for depression and anxiety using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 with a cut-off score of 1.75.
The crude mortality rate (CMR) was 4.9 deaths (95% confidence interval [CI], 4.6-5.1) per 1000 population per month and self-reported CMR due to violence was 0.8 deaths (95% CI, 0.6-1.0) per 1000 population per month. Thirty-five percent reported their physical health status as being good or very good while 29% described it as bad or very bad. Respondents in northern prefectures reported higher rates of mortality, exposure to trauma, and insecurity and lower levels of physical health and access to health services compared with those in the south. The estimated prevalences of symptoms of depression and anxiety were 55.3% (95% CI, 51.6%-59.0%) and 52.5% (95% CI, 48.1%-56.8%), respectively. Exposure to violence and self-reported physical health were statistically associated with mental health outcomes (P < .001). Anxiety symptom scores were higher for respondents in the northern prefectures than those in the south (t = 2.54, P = .01).
A high proportion of adult respondents in CAR reported witnessing or having personally experienced traumatic events over the course of the conflicts, and more than half met symptom criteria for depression and anxiety.

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    • "After a review of 1175 citations, we selected 19 unique studies that reported on prevalence of sexual violence among female refugees and IDPs in the setting of complex humanitarian emergencies.3,4,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46 The selection of studies included in our review is summarized in Figure 1. "
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    ABSTRACT: Refugees and internally displaced persons are highly vulnerable to sexual violence during conflict and subsequent displacement. However, accurate estimates of the prevalence of sexual violence among in these populations remain uncertain. Our objective was to estimate the prevalence of sexual violence among refugees and displaced persons in complex humanitarian emergencies. We conducted systematic review of relevant literature in multiple databases (EMBASE, CINAHL, and MEDLINE) through February 2013 to identify studies. We also reviewed reference lists of included articles to identify any missing sources. Inclusion criteria required identification of sexual violence among refugees and internally displaced persons or those displaced by conflict in complex humanitarian settings. Studies were excluded if they did not provide female sexual violence prevalence, or that included only single case reports, anecdotes, and those that focused on displacement associated with natural disasters. After a review of 1175 citations 19 unique studies were selected. Data Extraction: Two reviewers worked independently to identify final selection and a third reviewer adjudicated any differences. Descriptive and quantitative information was extracted; prevalence estimates were synthesized. Heterogeneity was assessed using I2. The main outcome of interest was sexual violence among female refugees and internally displaced persons in complex humanitarian settings. The prevalence of sexual violence was estimated at 21.4% (95% CI, 14.9-28.7; I2=98.3%), using a random effects model. Statistical heterogeneity was noted with studies using probability sampling designs reporting lower prevalence of sexual violence (21.0%, 95% CI, 13.2-30.1; I2=98.6%), compared to lower quality studies (21.7%, 95% CI, 11.5-34.2; I2=97.4%). We could not rule out the presence of publication bias. The findings suggest that approximately one in five refugees or displaced women in complex humanitarian settings experienced sexual violence. However, this is likely an underestimation of the true prevalence given the multiple existing barriers associated with disclosure. The long-term health and social consequences of sexual violence for women and their families necessitate strategies to improve identification of survivors of sexual violence and increase prevention and response interventions in these complex settings.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · PLoS Currents
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    • "Nonetheless, these population-based figures greatly augment those presently available from case-based reporting systems. This survey and other recent, population-based work provide evidence that a security crisis is underway in CAR [24]. Yet establishing conditions on the ground is only one step in the accountability process. "
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    ABSTRACT: Measuring human rights violations is particularly challenging during or after armed conflict. A recent nationwide survey in the Central African Republic produced estimates of rates of grave violations against children and adults affected by armed conflict, using an approach known as the "Neighborhood Method". In June and July, 2009, a random household survey was conducted based on population estimates from the 2003 national census. Clusters were assigned systematically proportional to population size. Respondents in randomly selected households were interviewed regarding incidents of killing, intentional injury, recruitment into armed groups, abduction, sexual abuse and rape between January 1, 2008 and the date of interview, occurring in their homes' and those of their three closest neighbors. Sixty of the selected 69 clusters were surveyed. In total, 599 women were interviewed about events in 2,370 households representing 13,669 persons. Estimates of annual rates of each violation occurring per 1000 people in each of two strata are provided for children between the ages of five and 17, adults 18 years of age and older and the entire population five years and older, along with a combined and weighted national rate. The national rates for children age five to 17 were estimated to be 0.98/1000/year (95% CI: 0.18 - 1.78) for recruitment, 2.56/1000/year (95% CI: 1.50 - 3.62) for abduction, 1.13/1000/year (95% CI: 0.33 - 1.93) for intentional injury, 10.72/1000 girls/year (95% CI: 7.40 - 14.04) for rape, and 4.80/1000 girls/year (95% CI: 2.61 - 6.00) for sexual abuse. No reports of any violation against a person under the age of five were recorded and there were no reports of rape or sexual abuse of males. No children were reported to have been killed during the recall period. Rape and abduction were the most frequently reported events. The population-based figures greatly augment existing information on human rights violations in CAR, and represent a step forward in quantifying the protection needs of Central Africans. Government, donors, and international organizations should make use of this data to better inform advocacy, prevention, and response programs, to assist in fundraising, and to develop surveillance activities to monitor child protection concerns.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Conflict and Health

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