War exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder, and complex posttraumatic stress disorder among parents living in Ukraine during the Russian war

Thanos Karatzias, Mark Shevlin, Menachem Ben-Ezra, Eoin McElroy, Enya Redican, Maria Louison Vang, Marylene Cloitre, Grace W.K. Ho, Boris Lorberg, Dmytro Martsenkovskyi, Philip Hyland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: High rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been documented in war-affected populations. The prevalence of Complex PTSD (CPTSD) has never been assessed in an active war zone. Here, we provide initial data on war-related experiences, and prevalence rates of ICD-11 PTSD and CPTSD in a large sample of adults in Ukraine during the Russian war. We also examined how war-related stressors, PTSD, and CPTSD were associated with age, sex, and living location in Ukraine. Method: Self-report data were gathered from a nationwide sample of 2004 adult parents of children under 18 from the general population of Ukraine approximately 6 months after Russia's invasion. Results: All participants were exposed to at least one war-related stressor, and the mean number of exposures was 9.07 (range = 1–26). Additionally, 25.9% (95% CI = 23.9%, 27.8%) met diagnostic requirements for PTSD and 14.6% (95% CI = 12.9%, 16.0%) met requirements for CPTSD. There was evidence of a strong dose–response relationship between war-related stressors and meeting criteria for PTSD and CPTSD. Participants who had the highest exposure to war-related stressors were significantly more likely to meet the requirements for PTSD (OR = 4.20; 95% CI = 2.96–5.95) and CPTSD (OR = 8.12; 95% CI = 5.11–12.91) compared to the least exposed. Conclusions: Humanitarian responses to the mental health needs of the Ukrainian population will need to take account of posttraumatic stress reactions. Education in diagnosing and treating PTSD/CPTSD, especially in the situation of a significant lack of human resources and continuing displacement of the population, is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-285
Number of pages10
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Volume147
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Ukraine war
  • complex posttraumatic stress disorder
  • parents
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • war-related stressors

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