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Trauma and Depression Among North Korean Refugees: The Mediating Effect of Negative Cognition

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Trauma and Depression Among North Korean Refugees: The Mediating Effect of Negative Cognition

Subin Park et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health.

Abstract

North Korean refugees experience adaptation difficulties, along with a wide range of psychological problems. Accordingly, this study examined the associations between early traumatic experiences, negative automatic thoughts, and depression among young North Korean refugees living in South Korea. Specifically, we examined how different factors of negative automatic thoughts would mediate the relationship between early trauma and depressive symptoms. A total of 109 North Korean refugees aged 13-29 years were recruited from two alternative schools. Our path analysis indicated that early trauma was positively linked with thoughts of personal failure, physical threat, and hostility, but not with thoughts of social threat. The link with depressive symptoms was only significant for thoughts of personal failure. After removing all non-significant pathways, the model revealed that early traumatic experiences were positively associated with depressive symptoms (ß = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.48-0.73) via thoughts of personal failure (ß = 0.17, 95% CI = 0.08-0.28), as well as directly (ß = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.27-0.59). Interventions that target negative cognitions of personal failure may be helpful for North Korean refugees at risk of depression.

Keywords: North Korean refugees; depression; early trauma; negative automatic thoughts; path analysis.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Path diagram illustrating the direct and indirect relationships between traumatic experiences, four types of negative automatic thoughts, and depressive symptoms, adjusting for sex, age, and family social economics status (Model 1). Standardized path coefficients (β) are reported in the model. Solid lines indicate significant associations and dotted lines indicate non-significant associations. p < 0.10, * p < 0.05.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Path diagram illustrating the direct and indirect relationships between traumatic experiences, thoughts of personal failure, and depressive symptoms, adjusting for sex, age, and family social economics status (Model 2). Standardized path coefficients are reported in the model. Solid lines indicate significant associations. * p < 0.05. (as above mentioned)

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