Connectedness, social support and internalising emotional and behavioural problems in adolescents displaced by the Chechen conflict

Authors

  • Theresa S. Betancourt,

    1. Director of the Research Program on Children and Global Adversity at the Francois Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, United States
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  • Carmel Salhi,

    1. Doctoral candidate in the Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, United States
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  • Stephen Buka,

    1. Chair of Epidemiology at the Department of Community Health, Brown University Medical School, United States
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  • Jennifer Leaning,

    1. Director of the Francois Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights and a Professor in the Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, United States
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  • Gillian Dunn,

    1. Former Country Director of the International Rescue Committee's Russian Federation Country Office and a doctoral candidate in Public Health at the City University of New York, United States
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  • Felton Earls

    1. Professor in the Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, United States.
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Correspondence
Theresa Betancourt, Department of Global Health and Population, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health, 651 Huntington Avenue, FXB Building 7th Floor, Room 709D, Boston, MA 02115, United States. Telephone: +617 432 5003; fax: +617 432 4310. E-mail: Theresa_Betancourt@Harvard.edu

Abstract

The study investigated factors associated with internalising emotional and behavioural problems among adolescents displaced during the most recent Chechen conflict. A cross-sectional survey (N=183) examined relationships between social support and connectedness with family, peers and community in relation to internalising problems. Levels of internalising were higher in displaced Chechen youth compared to published norms among non-referred youth in the United States and among Russian children not affected by conflict. Girls demonstrated higher problem scores compared to boys. Significant inverse correlations were observed between family, peer and community connectedness and internalising problems. In multivariate analyses, family connectedness was indicated as a significant predictor of internalising problems, independent of age, gender, housing status and other forms of support evaluated. Sub-analyses by gender indicated stronger protective relationships between family connectedness and internalising problems in boys. Results indicate that family connectedness is an important protective factor requiring further exploration by gender in war-affected adolescents.

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