Trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms in international relief and development personnel


  • This work represents the dissertation of the first author, chaired by the second author.


International relief and development personnel may be directly or indirectly exposed to traumatic events that put them at risk for developing symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In order to identify areas of risk and related reactions, surveys were administered to 113 recently returned staff from 5 humanitarian aid agencies. Respondents reported high rates of direct and indirect exposure to life-threatening events. Approximately 30% of those surveyed reported significant symptoms of PTSD. Multiple regression analysis revealed that personal and vicarious exposure to life-threatening events and an interaction between social support and exposure to life threat accounted for a significant amount of variance in PTSD severity. These results suggest the need for personnel programs; prede-ployment training, risk assessment, and contingency planning may better prepare personnel for service.