Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Somatization as a moderator of posttraumatic stress disorder in southeast Asian refugees
by Goradietsky, Seth R., Psy.D., John F. Kennedy University, 2012, 87; 3598425
Abstract (Summary)

The diagnostic category of PTSD does not capture culture-relevant symptomatology, that is, somatization, for Cambodian refugees in the United States. Somatization may function as a buffer against chronic PTSD symptomatology in Cambodian refugees because somatization represents a culture-specific coping strategy for this population. The purpose of the present study is to assess the correlation between somatization and degree of PTSD symptoms. The study also addresses the mental health disparities in the Cambodian refugee population in order to inform the literature on access to better trauma-informed mental health services.

Participants were recruited from community mental health agencies in Oakland, CA and Long Beach, CA. Two "data-gathering" groups of Cambodian refugees (N = 26) were administered a demographic questionnaire, the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire-Revised (HTQ-R) and the Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire-20 (SDQ-20) in Khmer and English. The correlational relationship between demographic variables was also analyzed in order to explore contextual factors behind the findings of the study's main research question. Recommendations for assessment and treatment of PTSD in Cambodian refugees were then discussed based on the study's findings. Health care utilization by Cambodian refugees was examined and recommendations were suggested for improvement in public policy and health care services.

The hypothesis of this study that the level of somatization was inversely related to degree of PTSD symptomatology in Cambodian refugees was not supported. The Pearson Correlational Coefficient analysis produced a statistically significant positive relationship (r = .34) between somatization and traumatization in Cambodian refugees as measured by scores on the SDQ-20 and the HTQ-R. The role of specific somatoform symptoms in the chronicity of PTSD symptomatology was explored. The positive correlation found between the SDQ-20 and HTQ-R supported previous research, demonstrating the relationship between somatoform dissociation and higher PTSD symptomatology in Cambodian refugees.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mattar, Sandra
Commitee: Kim, Ken
School: John F. Kennedy University
Department: Graduate and Professional Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian American Studies, Clinical psychology, South Asian Studies
Keywords: Cambodia, Cultural psychology, Dissociative, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Refugees, Somatoform, Trauma
Publication Number: 3598425
ISBN: 9781303470042
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