Nou se Wozo: Exploring Post-traumatic Stress among Haitian Children Living in Orphanages.

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Children living in orphanages in Haiti are a vulnerable group. Most of them experienced several shocking events, such as the 2010th earthquake and the separation from their parents. The experience of shocking events might lead to multiple mental health outcomes, of which posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common disorder. In this study, 49 children from three different orphanages in the zone of Port-au-Prince participated to explore risk and protective factors in developing PTSD. This study found associations between reporting more symptoms of posttraumatic stress and the orphanage children were living. Children reporting more symptoms experienced the earthquake as the shocking event bothering them most in which they were a victim and persons were seriously injured or died. They experienced multiple other shocking events and used more different kinds of coping strategies and were using these strategies more often. Particularly the use of distraction strategies were reported more often among children with more symptoms compared to children with less symptoms of posttraumatic stress. Longitudinal research with a mixed-methods design is needed to understand the complex relation between socio-demographic factors, features of the shocking events, and characteristics of the children in developing PTSD and other mental health outcomes. Future research should aim to provide practical information to improve the circumstances, resilience, and mental health outcomes of the children. Keywords: Haiti, children, orphanage, mental health, PTSD, posttraumatic stress, shocking event, earthquake, coping.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen