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Trauma among Kenyan School Children in Urban and Rural Settings: PTSD Prevalence and Correlates

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This study estimated the prevalence and correlates of PTSD in Kenyan school children during a period of widespread post-election violence. The UCLA PTSD Reaction Index was administered to 2482 primary and secondary school students ages 11–17 from rural and urban communities. A high proportion of school children had witnessed people being shot at, beat up or killed (46.9%) or had heard about the violent death or serious injury of a loved one (42.0%). Over one quarter (26.8%, 95% CI = 25.1% - 28.7%) met criteria for PTSD. Correlates of PTSD included living in a rural (vs urban) area (AOR = 1.72, 95% CI = 1.41–2.11), attending primary (vs secondary) school (AOR = 2.25, 95% CI = 1.67–3.04) and being a girl (with girl as referent AOR = .70, 95% CI = .57–.86). We recommend training Kenyan teachers to recognize signs of emotional distress in school children and psychosocial counselors to adapt empirically-supported mental health interventions for delivery in primary and secondary school settings.

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We want to thank Sharon W. Kiche, MPH, for her help with the literature review.

The design and field work for the study were self-sponsored. Statistical analyses and writing were supported through a Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Award to the University of Nairobi from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health/Fogarty International Center, R25 MH099132.

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Correspondence to Ann Vander Stoep.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation, institutional and national, and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

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Table 4 Five studies conducted since 2008 that Report PTSD prevalence in Kenyan children and adolescents

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Mbwayo, A.W., Mathai, M., Harder, V.S. et al. Trauma among Kenyan School Children in Urban and Rural Settings: PTSD Prevalence and Correlates. Journ Child Adol Trauma 13, 63–73 (2020).

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