War-Related Exposure and Psychological Distress as Predictors of Health and Sleep: A Longitudinal Study of Kuwaiti Children

This article aims to determine whether exposure to war-related trauma during childhood predicted posttraumatic stress, self-reported health, sleep, and obesity in adulthood, and whether psychological distress mediated the relationships. They assessed 151 Kuwaiti boys and girls aged 9 to 12 years in 1993 to determine their level of exposure to war-related trauma during the Iraqi occupation and Gulf war, health complaints, and psychological distress. In 2003, 120 (79%) of the initial participants reported on their posttraumatic stress, general health, body mass index (BMI), and sleep quality. Results indicated a direct effect of exposure on poor sleep quality and BMI. Exposure also predicted poor sleep quality through its association with concurrent posttraumatic stress. The effect of exposure on self-reported health was mediated by health complaints and psychological distress, which included symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. Shows that exposure to war-related events during childhood is associated with posttraumatic stress, poor sleep quality, high BMI, and poor self-reported health in adulthood.

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