Psychological reactions of Turkish earthquake survivors

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Erdur, Özgür

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The goal of this study was to examine DSM’s posttraumatic stress disorder’s (PTSD) symptom structure in relation to Turkish earthquake survivors and to examine the strength of associations of several risk/resilience variables with PTSD. In addition, the aim of the study was to look at the diagnostic features and development of PTSD in a culture specific context, because most of the knowledge on trauma and emotional experiences were produced based on western cultural premises and then imported to other international cultures. Confirmatory factor analysis was utilized to test the symptom structures of PTSD and the three symptom clusters (avoidance/numbing, reexperiencing, and arousal) of PTSD reported in DSM-IV failed to be confirmed. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to find the bestfitting factor structures for Turkish earthquake survivors. The data for the factor analyses were gathered from 440 Turkish earthquake survivors six weeks after the 1999 Istanbul earthquake. The risk and/or resilience variables (level of exposure, rumination, emotion regulation, and meta-mood traits) were examined in terms of their relationships with PTSD using data gathered from 157 Turkish survivors approximately two years after the earthquake. Multiple hierarchical regression analyses were utilized to test the strength of associations between PTSD and the following variables: level of exposure, age, gender, types of emotion regulation (suppression and reappraisal), rumination, and meta-mood traits (clarity in discriminating feelings, attention to feelings and mood repair). Level of exposure, suppression, rumination, clarity in discriminating feelings and mood repair are found to be related to the development of PTSD. Results are discussed in light of the existing literature, and limitations and directions for future studies are drawn.