Baseline self reported functional health and vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder after combat deployment: prospective US military cohort studyBMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b1273 (Published 16 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1273
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Re: Baseline self reported functional health and vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder after combat deployment: prospective US military cohort study
War affects both the soldiers fighting on the ground and the civilian population amongst whom they fight. Recent conflicts, including those in the Balkans, Libya and Syria, have involved much fighting within highly populated urban areas. In the large civilian populations caught up in these conflicts, children are vulnerable.
In this context, we would like to draw attention to the recent study by Hasanovic about the epidemiology of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among children who were displaced by the war in Bosnia .
He found that the severity level of the PTSD symptoms and social dysfunction was most severe in the Srebrenica group of children, then in the Zvornik children and finally in the Bijeljina group. The prevalence of PTSD differed in a statistically significant way between the Srebrenica group (73.9%), the Zvornik group (60.8%) and the Bijeljina group of children (47.6%) (χ²=9.854, df=2, p=0.007).
Thus, not surprisingly, there is a strong correlation between the incidence and severity of PTSD and the severity of conflict which the children were exposed to. Srebrenica, which witnessed the massacre of its male population, demonstrated the highest incidence of PTSD among children and areas where there was less fighting have lower incidences of PTSD in children.
It is important that both military and political decision makers should bear in mind the potential mental health consequences of war, especially in urban areas. It is the responsibility of the medical profession to educate decision makers to consider the consequences of exposure of children to war trauma.
Mevludin Hasanovic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Bosnian Internally Displaced and Refugee Adolescents from three different regions after the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina Paediatrics Today 2012;8(1):22-31
Competing interests: No competing interests