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Reciprocal Association between Psychological Distress and PTSD and Their Relationship with Pre-Displacement Stressors among Displaced Women

Erhabor S. Idemudia1, Babatola D. Olawa1,*, Gail E. Wyatt2, Norweeta G. Milburn2
1 Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Mafikeng Campus, 34151, South Africa
2 Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Sciences, Jane & Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behaviour, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, 90095, USA
* Corresponding Author: Babatola D. Olawa. Email: babatola.olawa@fuoye.edu.ng
(This article belongs to this Special Issue: Disentangling the Pathway to the Health of Adults’ Populations: Emotional and Physical Wellbeing)

International Journal of Mental Health Promotion https://doi.org/10.32604/ijmhp.2023.026852

Received 28 September 2022; Accepted 12 December 2022; Published online 14 February 2023


It is established in the psychological literature that pre-displacement stressors, PTSD symptoms, and psychological distress are associated among internally displaced persons. However, existing studies have not demonstrated the mechanism underlying these associations. This study compared two explanatory models; one with PTSD symptoms severity explaining the indirect association between pre-displacement stressors and psychological distress, and the other with psychological distress explaining the indirect relationship between pre-displacement stressors and PTSD symptoms severity. In a cross-sectional design, 631 women (Mean age = 31.18 ± 8.59) were conveniently and purposely selected from the displaced women harboured in two camps in Borno State, Nigeria, due to the Boko-Haram insurgency. Data were collected utilizing structured questionnaires and subjected to path analyses. Results demonstrated that PTSD symptoms severity and psychological distress indirectly explained their respective and independent association with pre-displacement stressors. However, PTSD symptoms had a statistically larger standardized indirect effect size, greater indirect effect percentage, and bigger kappa-squared (k2) effect size than psychological distress. PTSD symptoms and psychological distress may have a reciprocal influence on each other from pre-displacement stressors. However, PTSD symptoms can better explain the association between pre-displacement stressors and psychological distress than the other way around. These outcomes have important implications for the psychological treatment of displaced persons.


PTSD symptoms; psychological distress; traumatic stress; internally displaced persons
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