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The influence of demographic characteristics, living conditions, and trauma exposure on the overall health of a conflict-affected population in Southern Sudan

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-518

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Abstract:

A cross-sectional survey of 1228 adults was conducted in November 2007 in the town of Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan. Multivariate linear regression analysis was used to investigate the associations and relative influence of variables in three models of demographic characteristics, living conditions, and trauma exposure, on general physical and mental health status. These models were run separately and also as a combined model. Data quality and the internal consistency of the health status instrument (SF-8) were assessed.The variables in the multivariate analysis (combined model) with negative coefficients of association with general physical health and mental health (i.e. worse health), respectively, were being female (coef. -2.47; -2.63), higher age (coef.-0.16; -0.17), absence of soap in the household (physical health coef. -2.24), and experiencing within the past 12 months a lack of food and/or water (coef. -1.46; -2.27) and lack of medical care (coef.-3.51; -3.17). A number of trauma variables and cumulative exposure to trauma showed an association with physical and mental health (see main text for data). There was limited variance in results when each of the three models were run separately and when they were combined, suggesting the pervasive influence of these variables. The SF-8 showed good data quality and internal consistency.This study provides evidence on the pervasive influence of demographic characteristics, living conditions, and violent and traumatic events on the general physical and mental health of a conflict-affected population in Southern Sudan, and highlights the importance of addressing all these influences on overall health.Armed conflict and forced displacement are recognised as important determinants of health [1]. The influence of demographic factors, living conditions, and exposure to violent and traumatic events on specific physical health conditions and mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and

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