Mental health status among ethnic Albanians seeking medical care in an emergency department two years after the war in Kosovo: a pilot project.

William G. Fernandez, Sandro Galea, Jennifer Ahern, Sarah Sisco, Ronald J. Waldman, Bajram Koci, David Vlahov

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    STUDY OBJECTIVE: The long-term psychological effects of war are under appreciated in clinical settings. Describing the postwar psychosocial burden on medical care can help direct public health interventions. We performed an emergency department (ED)-based assessment of the mental health status of ethnic Albanian patients 2 years after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led bombing of Serbia and Kosovo in 1999. METHODS: This study was conducted July 30, 2001, to August 30, 2001, in the ED of a hospital in Pristina, Kosovo. Investigators collected data through systematic sampling of every sixth nonacute ED patient presenting for care; 87.7% of patients agreed to participate. Respondents completed a structured questionnaire, including demographic characteristics, the Short Form-36, and the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. RESULTS: All 306 respondents were ethnic Albanians; mean age was 39 years (SD 17.9 years). Of respondents, 58% had become refugees during the war. Two hundred ninety-six (97%) reported experiencing at least one traumatic event during the war; the average number of traumatic events encountered by participants was 6.6. Forty-three (14%) reported symptoms that met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder; mean Short Form-36 Mental Component Summary score was 42.1 (SD 12.5). Separate multivariable linear regression models confirmed our belief that older age, female sex, less than a high school education, and having experienced a greater number of traumatic events would be associated with more posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and lower Mental Component Summary scores. CONCLUSION: Mental health problems among ED patients in Kosovo, particularly among specific vulnerable populations, are a significant public health concern 2 years after the conflict.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)E1-8
    JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 2004

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Emergency Medicine


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