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The indirect effect of somatic complaints on report of posttraumatic psychological symptomatology among Somali refugees

Authors

  • Jacob A. Bentley,

    Corresponding author
    1. Seattle Pacific University
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Clinical Psychology, Seattle Pacific University
    • Department of Clinical Psychology, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third AvenueWest, Seattle,WA 98119
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  • John W. Thoburn,

    1. Seattle Pacific University
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Clinical Psychology, Seattle Pacific University
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  • David G. Stewart,

    1. Seattle Pacific University
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Clinical Psychology, Seattle Pacific University
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  • Lorin D. Boynton

    1. Seattle Pacific University
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington School of Medicine
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  • The authors would like to express their appreciation to Ali Adem, Sarah Farah, and Mohamed Roble at Somali Community Services of Seattle. Their contributions to the cultural adaptation of instruments and data collection procedures were invaluable. Also, many thanks go to Christine Wilson Owens at Harborview Medical Center and EthnoMed.org for her continual support of this project.

Abstract

Somali refugees are a growing population of displaced persons at risk for considerable traumatic exposure and its subsequent psychological symptomatology. Two hypotheses were proposed to evaluate the relationships between somatic complaints and posttraumatic psychological symptoms in a community-based sample of 74 adult Somali participants. As hypothesized, traumatic exposure predicted increased symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; r = .64, p < .01), depression (r = .31, p < .01), and anxiety (r = .38, p < .01) in the basal model. In evaluation of the second hypothesis, somatic complaints were found to have a statistically significant indirect effect on the predictive relationship between traumatic life events and mood disturbance, accounting for 9% of the variance in depression and 14% of the variance in anxiety. However, somatic complaints failed to have an indirect effect on the relationship between traumatic exposure and symptoms of PTSD. Post hoc analyses revealed that, consistent with research conducted with nonrefugee populations, PTSD had a statistically significant indirect effect that accounted for 13% of the variance in the relationship between trauma and somatic complaints. These findings provide preliminary data regarding the influence of somatic complaints on the self-reported psychological symptoms of internationally displaced Somali refugees.

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