Perceived current needs, psychological distress and functional impairment in a war-affected setting : a cross-sectional study in South Sudan

Ayazi, Touraj ; Swartz, Leslie ; Eide, Arne H. ; Lien, Lars ; Hauff, Edvard (2015)

CITATION: Ayazi, T., et al. 2015. Perceived current needs, psychological distress and functional impairment in a war-affected setting : a cross-sectional study in South Sudan. BMJ Open, 5:e007534, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014- 007534.

The original publication is available at http://bmjopen.bmj.com

Article

Objectives: To examine the current perceived needs of the general population in a war-affected setting, and to study the influence of perceived needs on the participants’ mental health status and functional impairment across genders. Methods: A cross-sectional community survey (n=464) was conducted in war-affected South Sudan. Three regression models were analysed. Perceived needs were assessed with the Humanitarian Emergency Settings Perceived Needs Scale. Psychological distress was measured with the General Health Questionnaire and level of functioning by the Short Form Health Survey (SF-12). Results The most frequently expressed needs were related to drinking water, alcohol and drug use in the community and access to sanitation facilities. No gender differences were found regarding the level of perceived needs or the number of traumatic events. Higher level of perceived needs significantly predicted psychological distress and lower level of functioning even when numbers of experienced trauma events were taken into account. Conclusions: The associations of higher level of needs and trauma experiences, on the one hand, and negative health outcomes on the other, necessitate a greater integration of interventions directed towards the population's perceived needs and mental health, particularly for those who have been exposed to trauma.

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