Date: 25 Oct 2013

Influence of Posttraumatic Growth on Mental Health and Well-being Across Respondents Severely Affected by War in Post-conflict Sri Lanka

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Abstract

Previous studies have shown that trauma and stressors are negatively correlated with mental health outcomes in post-conflict environments. This paper investigates if posttraumatic growth (positive psychological change due to traumatic experiences) can beneficially influence mental health and well-being in a post-conflict setting. In July 2012, a pilot survey of 150 people and a cross-sectional multistage cluster survey of 3,029 participants were undertaken in the four Sri Lankan districts most severely affected by war. The response rate was 81 % with a total of 2,460 interviewees including people who have experience living in internally displaced person (IDP) camps (n = 1,505) and people who have never lived in IDP camps (n = 955). Results show the impact of posttraumatic growth on mental health and well-being is higher among those people with experience living in IDP camps compared to people who have never lived in IDP camps. Results also show short-term displacement in IDP camps (1 year or less) is positively associated with greater well-being and mental health relative to people in post-conflict areas who have never been in IDP camps. Conversely, longer-term displacement in IDP camps (more than 1 year) is negatively associated with greater well-being and mental health relative to people in post-conflict areas who have never been in IDP camps.