A network analysis of posttraumatic stress symptoms among help-seeking refugees in Kenya

Samuli Kangaslampi, Ferdinand Garoff, Shannon Golden, Kirsi Peltonen

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We analyzed the network structure of DSM-IV PTSD symptoms among 2,792 help-seeking Central and East African refugees in Kenya exposed to multiple, severe traumatic events and on-going stressors. To some extent, our results reproduced structures identified among clinical populations in Europe, including strong links within traditional symptom clusters, such as between avoidance of thoughts and situations, and hypervigilance and startling. However, we found substantial differences in most central symptoms, with detachment and disinterest far less and emotional numbing and concentration problems more central in our analyses. Our networks did not reproduce the common finding of particularly low centrality of amnesia. We further noted substantive similarities in network structure, but also differences, between refugees living in an urban environment and in refugee camps. Concentration problems were most central among mainly Somali refugees at a refugee camp, and associated with amnesia and sense of foreshortened future, while emotional numbing was the most central symptom among majority Congolese refugees in Nairobi. Our findings highlight the importance of contextual and cultural factors for PTSD symptomatology, and are informative for assessment and treatment among help-seeking refugees.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102358
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • PTSD
  • trauma
  • refugee
  • network analysis

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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