, Volume 45, Issue 12, pp 1167-1177

Somatic distress among Kosovar civilian war survivors: relationship to trauma exposure and the mediating role of experiential avoidance

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The current study examined the prevalence and correlates of somatic distress (SD) in the aftermath of war, and the role of a process hypothesized to contribute to posttraumatic stress: experiential avoidance.


Civilian war survivors (n = 163) from Kosovo were assessed in structured interviews, reporting on average more than ten types of traumatic war exposure.


One in eight (12.9%) of the participants meet criteria for SD, which was associated with greater psychological distress, experiential avoidance, and lower quality of life after accounting for the effects of war-related variables, demographic variables, as well as posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive episode. Experiential avoidance partially mediated the association between SD and psychological distress and quality of life.


The results indicate that SD is prevalent among war-exposed civilians and that experiential avoidance may be a significant factor in understanding and treating traumatized people who are experiencing SD.