The development and maintenance of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in civilian adult survivors of war trauma and torture: a review

Clin Psychol Rev. 2008 Jan;28(1):36-47. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2007.01.017. Epub 2007 Feb 22.


This review provides a comprehensive and critical summary of the literature as to the development and maintenance of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following civilian war trauma and torture. Prevalence rates are reviewed and predictors are discussed in terms of risk factors, protective factors, and factors that maintain PTSD. Most epidemiologically sound studies found relatively low rates of PTSD. There is good evidence of a dose-response relationship between cumulative war trauma and torture and development and maintenance of PTSD. There is also some evidence that female gender and older age are risk factors in development of PTSD. Some refugee variables may exacerbate symptoms of PTSD and contribute to their maintenance. Preparedness for torture, social and family support, and religious beliefs may all be protective against PTSD following war trauma and torture. Applicability of the concept of PTSD to non-western populations and areas for much needed further study are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Prevalence
  • Refugees / psychology
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Torture / psychology*
  • Torture / statistics & numerical data
  • Veterans / psychology
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data
  • Warfare