The Challenge of Living On: Psychopathology and Its Mediating Influence on the Readjustment of Former Child Soldiers

Ertl V, Pfeiffer A, Schauer-Kaiser E, Elbert T, Neuner F (2014)
PLoS ONE 9(7).

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Abstract
Current civil wars are characterized by the increasing involvement of civilian populations and the systematic employment of child soldiers. An example of such wars was the conflict in Northern Uganda, where the war-affected population is still challenged by the reintegration of formerly abducted children and youths. A cross-sectional, population-based survey, using a multistage cluster sampling approach of 1,113 Northern Ugandans aged between 12 and 25 in camps for internally displaced persons and locally validated instruments was conducted to assess symptoms and diagnoses of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and probable Depression in war-affected, as well as formerly abducted individuals. Further objectives were to determine predictors of psychopathology and to relate indicators of maladjustment (i.e., impairments in daily and community functioning, somatic complaints, suicidality, aggressiveness and discrimination) to abduction, level of exposure to violence and psychopathology. 43% of the sample reported abduction by the rebel army. Exposure to violence among this group was higher than for non-abducted youths (t = 28.05; p<.001). PTSD point prevalence rates were 25% among former child soldiers and 7% among the comparison group. High suicidal ideation was present in 16% and 6% respectively. A higher amount of experienced and witnessed event-types (β = . 32. p<.001), loss of first-degree relatives (β = .13. p<.001) and the number of event-types involving forced perpetration (β = .23. p<.001) were identified as risk factors of PTSD symptoms in former child soldiers. The associations between abductee-status and indicators of maladjustment were fully mediated by level of trauma exposure and psychopathology. Results show that child soldiering and its psychological sequelae affect a substantial proportion of children and youths. After release or flight, their readjustment depends at least partly on their level of mental traumatization.
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Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Open Access Publication Fund of Bielefeld University.
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Ertl V, Pfeiffer A, Schauer-Kaiser E, Elbert T, Neuner F. The Challenge of Living On: Psychopathology and Its Mediating Influence on the Readjustment of Former Child Soldiers. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(7).
Ertl, V., Pfeiffer, A., Schauer-Kaiser, E., Elbert, T., & Neuner, F. (2014). The Challenge of Living On: Psychopathology and Its Mediating Influence on the Readjustment of Former Child Soldiers. PLoS ONE, 9(7).
Ertl, V., Pfeiffer, A., Schauer-Kaiser, E., Elbert, T., and Neuner, F. (2014). The Challenge of Living On: Psychopathology and Its Mediating Influence on the Readjustment of Former Child Soldiers. PLoS ONE 9.
Ertl, V., et al., 2014. The Challenge of Living On: Psychopathology and Its Mediating Influence on the Readjustment of Former Child Soldiers. PLoS ONE, 9(7).
V. Ertl, et al., “The Challenge of Living On: Psychopathology and Its Mediating Influence on the Readjustment of Former Child Soldiers”, PLoS ONE, vol. 9, 2014.
Ertl, V., Pfeiffer, A., Schauer-Kaiser, E., Elbert, T., Neuner, F.: The Challenge of Living On: Psychopathology and Its Mediating Influence on the Readjustment of Former Child Soldiers. PLoS ONE. 9, (2014).
Ertl, Verena, Pfeiffer, Anett, Schauer-Kaiser, Elisabeth, Elbert, Thomas, and Neuner, Frank. “The Challenge of Living On: Psychopathology and Its Mediating Influence on the Readjustment of Former Child Soldiers”. PLoS ONE 9.7 (2014).
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3 Citations in Europe PMC

Data provided by Europe PubMed Central.

Unpacking Constructs: A Network Approach for Studying War Exposure, Daily Stressors and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
De Schryver M, Vindevogel S, Rasmussen AE, Cramer AO., Front Psychol 6(), 2015
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Winkler N, Ruf-Leuschner M, Ertl V, Pfeiffer A, Schalinski I, Ovuga E, Neuner F, Elbert T., Front Psychiatry 6(), 2015
PMID: 25788887

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