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Evaluation of psychological support for victims of sexual violence in a conflict setting: results from Brazzaville, CongoABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Little is known about the impact of psychological support in war and transcultural contexts and in particular, whether there are lasting benefits. Here, we present an evaluation of the late effect of post-rape psychological support provided to women in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. METHODS: Women who attended the Médecins Sans Frontières program for sexual violence in Brazzaville during the conflict were selected to evaluate the psychological consequences of rape and the late effect of post-rape psychological support. A total of 178 patients met the eligibility criteria: 1) Women aged more than 15 years; 2) raped by unknown person(s) wearing military clothes; 3) admitted to the program between the 1/1/2002 and the 30/4/2003; and 4) living in Brazzaville. RESULTS: The initial diagnosis according to DSM criteria showed a predominance of anxious disorders (54.1%) and acute stress disorders (24.6%). One to two years after the initial psychological care, 64 women were evaluated using the Trauma Screening Questionnaire (TSQ), the Global Assessment of Functioning scale (GAF) and an assessment scale to address medico-psychological care in emergencies (EUMP). Two patients (3.1%) met the needed criteria for PTSD diagnosis from the TSQ. Among the 56 women evaluated using GAF both as pre and post-test, global functioning was significantly improved by initial post-rape support (50 women (89.3%) had extreme or medium impairment at first post-rape evaluation, and 16 (28.6%) after psychological care; p = 0.04). When interviewed one to two years later, the benefit was fully maintained (16 women (28.6%) presenting extreme or medium impairment). CONCLUSION: We found the benefits of post-rape psychological support to be present and lasting in this conflict situation. However, we were unable to evaluate all women for the long-term impact, underscoring the difficulty of leading evaluation studies in unstable contexts. Future research is needed to validate these findings in other settings.
Mental health treatment outcomes in a humanitarian emergency: a pilot model for the integration of mental health into primary care in Habilla, DarfurBACKGROUND: There is no description of outcomes for patients receiving treatment for mental illnesses in humanitarian emergencies. MSF has developed a model for integration of mental health into primary care in a humanitarian emergency setting based on the capacity of community health workers, clinical officers and health counsellors under the supervision of a psychiatrist trainer. Our study aims to describe the characteristics of patients first attending mental health services and their outcomes on functionality after treatment. METHODS: A total of 114 patients received mental health care and 81 adult patients were evaluated with a simplified functionality assessment instrument at baseline, one month and 3 months after initiation of treatment. RESULTS: Most patients were diagnosed with epilepsy (47%) and psychosis (31%) and had never received treatment. In terms of follow up, 58% came for consultations at 1 month and 48% at 3 months. When comparing disability levels at baseline versus 1 month, mean disability score decreased from 9.1 (95%CI 8.1-10.2) to 7.1 (95%CI 5.9-8.2) p = 0.0001. At 1 month versus 3 months, mean score further decreased to 5.8 (95%CI 4.6-7.0) p < 0.0001. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that there is potential to integrate mental health into primary care in humanitarian emergency contexts. Patients with severe mental illness and epilepsy are in particular need of mental health care. Different strategies for integration of mental health into primary care in humanitarian emergency settings need to be compared in terms of simplicity and feasibility.
Trauma-related psychological disorders among Palestinian children and adults in Gaza and West Bank, 2005-2008BACKGROUND: Trauma from war and violence has led to psychological disorders in individuals living in the Gaza strip and West Bank. Few reports are available on the psychiatric disorders seen in children and adolescents or the treatment of affected populations. This study was conducted in order to describe the occurrence and treatment of psychiatric disorders in the Palestinian populations of the Gaza strip and Nablus district in the West Bank. METHODS: From 2005 to 2008, 1369 patients aged more than 1 year were identified through a local mental health and counseling health network. All were clinically assessed using a semi-structured interview based on the DSM-IV-TR criteria. RESULTS: Among 1254 patients, 23.2% reported post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], 17.3% anxiety disorder (other than PTSD or acute stress disorder), and 15.3% depression. PTSD was more frequently identified in children < or = 15 years old, while depression was the main symptom observed in adults. Among children < or = 15 years old, factors significantly associated with PTSD included being witness to murder or physical abuse, receiving threats, and property destruction or loss (p < 0.03). Psychological care, primarily in the form of individual, short-term psychotherapy, was provided to 65.1% of patients, with about 30.6% required psychotropic medication. Duration of therapy sessions was higher for children < or = 15 years old compared with adults (p = 0.05). Following psychotherapy, 79.0% had improved symptoms, and this improvement was significantly higher in children < or = 15 years old (82.8%) compared with adults (75.3%; p = 0.001). CONCLUSION: These observations suggest that short-term psychotherapy could be an effective treatment for specific psychiatric disorders occurring in vulnerable populations, including children, living in violent conflict zones, such as in Gaza strip and the West Bank.