Enduring impact of conflict on mental health and gender-based violence perpetration in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea: A cross-sectional study.

Research paper by Rachel R Jewkes, Nwabisa N Jama-Shai, Yandisa Y Sikweyiya

Indexed on: 27 Oct '17Published on: 27 Oct '17Published in: PloS one


Violence against women is often exacerbated by war, but most civilian research has investigated short term impact. We describe the conflict experiences of men and women from the general population of Bougainville Papua New Guinea, perceptions of the enduring impact of conflict, and the associations between these and the major health and development problems on the islands: mental ill-health and violence against women.Fourteen years after the end of the decade long civil war, we conducted a household survey with a random sample of adult (n = 864) men and (n = 879) women living in Bougainville. The interviews were mostly conducted face-to-face, with very sensitive questions self-completed.Mental ill-health was highly prevalent, 37.8% of women and 32% of men had high levels of depressive symptomatology, 34.4% of men abused alcohol and 15.1% of women and 24.6% of men had high levels of PTSD symptoms. Among women, 23.3% had been raped in the year prior to the interview and 33.3% had experience physical or sexual partner violence. The prevalence of exposure to trauma during the civil war was very high and many of the men and women experienced lingering impact of conflict. Multiple logistic regression models showed that war trauma was associated with PTSD symptoms in women and PTSD symptoms, alcohol abuse and depressive symptoms in men. The perceived enduring impact of conflict was associated with depressive symptoms in men and women, problem drinking and suicidal thoughts in women and drug use in men. The perceived enduring conflict impact was associated with perpetration of past year rape and physical and/or sexual partner violence.The Bougainville civil war had a devastating impact on the population's lives. Reversing this legacy is essential but requires addressing what is perceived as the enduring social, economic and psychological impact of the conflict and a major focus on prevention of violence against women.