Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Salvadoran Women: Empirical Evidence and Description of Treatment


Bowen, Deborah J., Lisa Carscadden, Kate Beighle, and India Fleming. 1992. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Salvadoran Women: Empirical Evidence and Description of Treatment." Women & Therapy 13 (3): 267-280.

Authors: Deborah J. Bowen, Lisa Carscadden, Kate Beighle, India Fleming


Previous research has documented post-traumatic stress disorder among Salvadoran refugees in this country, but information on refugees living in El Salvador is not available. This study investigated the patterns of psychological distress and documented the existence of PTSD in Salvadoran refugee women in El Salvador. A team of U.S. mental health workers traveled to a refugee camp in El Salvador to interviewwomen about their traumatic experiences and current symptoms of distress. This study provides strongevidence that many refugee women in El Salvador have developed PTSD and that many others show significant signs of distress. Data from this study also provided insight into clinical issues for Salvadoranwomen experiencing PTSD. In response to requests from Salvadoran mental health providers, a treatmentprogram was developed to help Salvadoran women reduce their distress. Goals of the treatment included associating distress with the trauma as a normal reaction to a very abnormal event, reducing feelings of loss of control, reducing "survivor guilt," and lessening anxiety and high arousal level. These goals were accomplished using cognitive-behavioral and community-oriented strategies.

Keywords: trauma, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, female refugees, mental health

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: El Salvador

Year: 1992

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