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The effects of perceived torture controllability on symptom severity of posttraumatic stress, depression and anger in refugees and asylum seekers: A path analysis


Le, Lillian; Morina, Naser; Schnyder, Ulrich; Schick, Matthis; Bryant, Richard A; Nickerson, Angela (2018). The effects of perceived torture controllability on symptom severity of posttraumatic stress, depression and anger in refugees and asylum seekers: A path analysis. Psychiatry Research, 264:143-150.

Abstract

Torture is associated with greater psychopathology, however, the specific mechanisms underlying the effects of torture remain unclear. Research suggests that the perceived uncontrollable nature of, rather than the exposure to, torture, influences the development of psychological disorders. Perceived distress during torture has also been shown to influence psychological outcomes. This cross-sectional study explored the relationship between perceived torture controllability, emotions (i.e., anger and fear) during torture, and current posttraumatic stress (PTS), depression and anger symptoms, controlling for the effects of post-migration living difficulties. Data were collected from 108 refugees and asylum seekers in treatment at two psychiatric clinics in Zurich, Switzerland. Path analyses revealed negative correlations between PTS, depression and anger symptoms, and perceived torture controllability, and positive correlations with anger and fear during torture. Furthermore, the effects of perceived torture controllability on PTS and depression symptoms were mediated by fear during torture, and on anger symptoms via anger during torture. This was over and above the effects of post-migration living difficulties on psychological symptoms. The study provides preliminary evidence that perceived uncontrollability and distress during torture might be significant risk factors for current mental health of torture survivors. These findings may have implications for informing interventions for torture survivors.

Abstract

Torture is associated with greater psychopathology, however, the specific mechanisms underlying the effects of torture remain unclear. Research suggests that the perceived uncontrollable nature of, rather than the exposure to, torture, influences the development of psychological disorders. Perceived distress during torture has also been shown to influence psychological outcomes. This cross-sectional study explored the relationship between perceived torture controllability, emotions (i.e., anger and fear) during torture, and current posttraumatic stress (PTS), depression and anger symptoms, controlling for the effects of post-migration living difficulties. Data were collected from 108 refugees and asylum seekers in treatment at two psychiatric clinics in Zurich, Switzerland. Path analyses revealed negative correlations between PTS, depression and anger symptoms, and perceived torture controllability, and positive correlations with anger and fear during torture. Furthermore, the effects of perceived torture controllability on PTS and depression symptoms were mediated by fear during torture, and on anger symptoms via anger during torture. This was over and above the effects of post-migration living difficulties on psychological symptoms. The study provides preliminary evidence that perceived uncontrollability and distress during torture might be significant risk factors for current mental health of torture survivors. These findings may have implications for informing interventions for torture survivors.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Klinik für Konsiliarpsychiatrie und Psychosomatik
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:15 May 2018 15:38
Last Modified:15 May 2018 15:40
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0165-1781
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.03.055
PubMed ID:29631246

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