[TimorLesteStudies] New article: Trauma exposure, PTSD and psychotic-like symptoms in post-conflict Timor Leste: an epidemiological survey

Bu Wilson bu.wilson at anu.edu.au
Sun Jan 6 08:54:23 EST 2013

Trauma exposure, PTSD and psychotic-like symptoms in post-conflict Timor
Leste: an epidemiological survey 
BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:229 doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-229 

Ian Soosay (i.soosay at auckland.ac.nz) 
Derrick Silove (d.silove at unsw.edu.au) 

Catherine Bateman-Steel (c.bateman-steel at unsw.edu.au) 

Zachary Steel (z.steel at unsw.edu.au)

Paul Bebbington (rejupbe at ucl.ac.uk)

Peter B Jones (pbj21 at cam.ac.uk)

Tien Chey (t.chey at unsw.edu.au)

Lorraine Ivancic (l.ivancic at unsw.edu.au)

Claire Marnane (c.marnane at unsw.edu.au) 


Abstract Background 
Studies in developed countries indicate that psychotic-like symptoms are prevalent in the
community and are related to trauma exposure and PTSD. No comparable studies have been
undertaken in low-income, post-conflict countries. This study aimed to assess the prevalence
of psychotic-like symptoms in conflict-affected Timor Leste and to examine whether
symptoms were associated with trauma and PTSD. 
The Psychosis Screening Questionnaire and the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (assessing
trauma exposure and PTSD) were administered in an epidemiological survey of 1245 adults
(response rate 80.6%) in a rural and an urban setting in Timor Leste. We defined PSQ screen-
positive cases as those people reporting at least one psychotic-like symptom (paranoia,
hallucinations, strange experiences, thought interference, hypomania). 
The prevalence of PSQ screen-positive cases was 12 percent and these persons were more
disabled. PSQ cases were more likely to reside in the urban area, experienced higher levels of
trauma exposure and a greater prevalence of PTSD. PTSD only partially mediated the
relationship between trauma exposure and psychotic-like symptoms. 

Psychotic-like symptoms may be prevalent in countries exposed to mass conflict. The
cultural and contextual meaning of psychotic-like symptoms requires further inquiry in low-
income, post-conflict settings such as Timor Leste. 

Dr Bu V.E. Wilson

T: Vanuatu +678 598 2646 (mobile); +678 22626 (landline)
T: Australia +61 (0) 407 087 086
T: Timor-Leste +670 770 22887
E: buvewilson at gmail.com
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