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Prevalence of Violence and Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Victims of Ethno-Religious Conflict in Jos, Nigeria

Yetunde Olubusayo Tagurum, Oluwabunmi Oluwayemisi Chirdan, Taiwo Obindo, Danjuma Ayotunde Bello, Tolulope Olumide Afolaranmi, Zuwaira Ibrahim Hassan and Christopher Yilgwan

Objective: This study was carried out to determine the prevalence of exposure to violence among the population of a state in north-central Nigeria which had experienced waves of ethno-religious violence as well as screen for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among them. Method: A cross-sectional descriptive survey of the target population was carried out using an interviewer-administered semi-structured questionnaire. Four questions were used to screen for PTSD and a positive answer to three or more questions indicated presence of PTSD. Two of the Local Government Areas (LGAs), which had experienced repeated ethno-religious violence in the state, were studied and one adult was selected per household. Results: A total of 204 respondents were studied comprising 98 (48.0%) males and 106 (52.0%) females. Mean age was 43.7 ± 20 years. Two-thirds of the respondents had experienced some form of violence ranging from seeing someone getting killed 36.8%, someone getting stabbed 16.7% or shot 20.6% to loss of property 31.4% and relocation from residence 26%. Symptoms of PTSD experienced by the respondents included constant watchfulness and being easily startled (68.1%), denial or avoidance of thoughts of the crisis (67.6%), numbness and detachment from surroundings (52.9%) and nightmares (42.2%). Crude Prevalence of PTSD in the respondents (PTSD Score -≥ 3) was 46.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 39.6%-53.9%). Personal experience of ethno-religious violence, loss of property or means of livelihood, death of a family member/friend were all found to be statistically significantly associated with presence of PTSD (p ≤ 0.05). Conclusion: PTSD is common in this cohort exposed to ethno-religious crises. Relief efforts for victims of the crisis should include mental health assessment, referral for severe cases and treatment for those with PTSD.