Posttraumatic idioms of distress among Darfur refugees: Hozun and Majnun

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Darfur; idioms of distress; posttraumatic stress disorder; refugees; war


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Although psychosocial programming is seen as essential to the humanitarian response to the Darfur conflict, aid groups lack culturally-appropriate assessment instruments for monitoring and evaluation. The current study used an emic-etic integrated approach to: (i) create a culturally-appropriate measure of distress (Study 1), and (ii) test the measure in structured interviews of 848 Darfuris living in two refugee camps in Chad (Study 2). Traditional healers identified two trauma-related idioms, hozun and majnun, which shared features with but were not identical to posttraumatic stress disorder and depression. Measures of these constructs were reliable and correlated with trauma, loss, and functional impairment. Exploratory factor analysis resulted in empirical symptom clusters conceptually parallel to general Western psychiatric constructs. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for psychosocial programming.

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