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Title: Civilians in World War II and DSM-IV mental disorders: results from the World Mental Health Survey Initiative
Authors: Frounfelker, Rochelle
Gilman, Stephen E
Betancourt, Theresa S
Aguilar-Gaxiola, Sergio
Alonso, Jordi
Bromet, Evelyn J
Bruffaerts, Ronny
de Girolamo, Giovanni
Gluzman, Semyon
Gureje, Oye
Karam, Elie
Lee, Sing
Lépine, Jean-Pierre
Ono, Yutaka
Pennell, Beth-Ellen
Popovici, Daniela G
Ten Have, Margreet
Kessler, Ronald C
Affiliations: Faculty of Medicine 
Keywords: Anxiety disorders
Civilians in war
Major depressive disorder
World War II
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: National Library of Medicine
Part of: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Volume: 53
Issue: 2
Start page: 207
End page: 219
Understanding the effects of war on mental disorders is important for developing effective post-conflict recovery policies and programs. The current study uses cross-sectional, retrospectively reported data collected as part of the World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative to examine the associations of being a civilian in a war zone/region of terror in World War II with a range of DSM-IV mental disorders.

Adults (n= 3,370)who lived in countries directly involved in World War II in Europe and Japan were administered structured diagnostic interviews of lifetime DSM-IV mental disorders. The associations of war-related traumas with subsequent disorder onset-persistence were assessed with discrete-time survival analysis (lifetime prevalence) and conditional logistic regression (12-month prevalence).

Respondents who were civilians in a war zone/region of terror had higher lifetime risks than other respondents of major depressive disorder (MDD; OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1, 1.9) and anxiety disorder (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1, 2.0). The association of war exposure with MDD was strongest in the early years after the war, whereas the association with anxiety disorders increased over time. Among lifetime cases, war exposure was associated with lower past year risk of anxiety disorders. (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2, 0.7).

Exposure to war in World War II was associated with higher lifetime risk of some mental disorders. Whether comparable patterns will be found among civilians living through more recent wars remains to be seen, but should be recognized as a possibility by those projecting future needs for treatment of mental disorders.
ISSN: 09337954
DOI: 10.1007/s00127-017-1452-3
Open URL: Link to full text
Type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Medicine

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