Personality characteristics, trauma and symptoms of PTSD : a population study in Iraq
Aljurany, Khalil A. Hussen
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Background: The Iraqi people have been continually exposed to wide range of traumatic events, greatly increasing the rates of PTSD, depression, and health problems. However, there is a dearth of research investigating the prevalence of PTSD in the Iraqi population and the impact this has on the individual. This research sought to address this issue by assessing personality traits, sense of coherence, coping strategies and aggressive behaviours. Methods: Self-report scales were used via three studies and a qualitative analysis was conducted from interview transcripts in the fourth study. In order to use self-report scales, the first study validated seven scales, including Baghdad Trauma History Screen (BTHS), Brief Cope, Screen of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms (SPTSS), Sense of Coherence (SOC), personality traits of Neuroticism, Depression and Somatic Symptoms Scale (DSSS), and Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) in sample of 408 ( 251 males, and 157 females) members of the public. In the second study, another three scales were validated to use including; Health-Related Quality of Life SF-8, Health-relevant 5-factor Personality inventory (HP5i), and Aggression Questionnaire (AQ) in a sample of 52 (33 males and 19 females) Iraqi public population. In the third study the scale of the Big Five Inventory (BFI) was validated in a sample of 51 (34 males, 17 females) Iraqi student and refugees. Correlations between saliva cortisol and PTSD were examined in the second and third studies. In the fourth study, 17 interviews were conducted (9 males and 8 females) with Iraqi students and refugees to obtain a better understanding individual's experiences of exposure to traumatic events and PTSD symptoms as well as the different coping strategies adopted following a traumatic event. Results: The studies scales were reliable and valid. The results showed that a high proportion (94%) of participants reported at least one traumatic event. Thirty percent of 359 traumatised participants met the full DSM-IV criteria for PTSD association by low levels of sense of coherence, and high level of depression, neuroticism, and aggression. Very few of the participants (6%) reported no PTSD symptoms. Women reported less exposure to trauma and manifested more PTSD symptoms than men. Groups with and without PTSD did not differ significantly on their cortisol concentration levels. Social relationships and family support as well as religion played a vital role in shaping and dealing with trauma and PTSD symptoms. Conclusion: Personality traits, active coping strategies, sense of coherence and social and family support contributed in prediction of PTSD symptoms after exposure to severe ii traumatic events. Furthermore, the characteristics of PTSD related to social backgrounds and continue exposure to trauma in Iraq. The report measures were validated in this study, demonstrating their utility for future research examining PTSD symptoms in the Iraqi general population. Further research will help to create a systematic treatment programs for traumatised people.