Indexed on: 27 Jul '02Published on: 27 Jul '02Published in: The Journal of nervous and mental disease
Secondary traumatization from the tragic events of September 11, 2001 was studied among an ethnically diverse group of refugees who had been previously traumatized in their native war torn countries. A brief clinically oriented questionnaire was developed and administered to a clinic population of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Bosnian and Somalian refugees in the Intercultural Psychiatric Program at Oregon Health & Science University. Traumatic symptoms and responses to the widely televised images from September 11 were assessed among the five ethnic groups, and the differential responses among patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and schizophrenia also were assessed. The strongest responses were among Bosnian and Somalian patients with PTSD, and the Somalis had the greatest deterioration in their subjective sense of safety and security. Regardless of ethnic group, PTSD patients reacted most intensely, and patients with schizophrenia the least. Although patients largely returned to their baseline clinical status after two to three months, this study shows that cross-cultural reactivation of trauma has a significant clinical impact. It is essential that clinicians anticipate PTSD symptom reactivation among refugees when they are reexposed to significant traumatic stimuli.