Indirect Exposure to Atrocities and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms among Aid Workers: Hemispheric Lateralization Matters

Einav Levy, Daniela Herzog, Chen Hanna Ryder, Rachel Grunstein, Yori Gidron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Humanitarian aid workers (HAWs) are indirectly exposed to atrocities relating to people of concern (POC). This may result in a risk of secondary traumatization demonstrated by post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSSs). Previous studies have demonstrated that hemispheric lateralization (HL) moderates the relationship between threat exposure and post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSSs). Aims: We hypothesized that indirect exposure to atrocities (IETA) would be positively correlated with PTSSs among HAWs with right and not left HL. Method: Fifty-four HAWs from several countries that provided humanitarian support in Greece and Colombia participated in this correlational and cross-sectional observation study. They completed scales relating to IETA, PTSSs were assessed using a brief, valid scale, and HL was measured. Results: IETA was positively and significantly related to PTSSs (r = 0.39, p < 0.005). Considering HL, IETA was unrelated to PTSSs among people with right HL (r = 0.29, p = 0.14), while IETA was related to PTSSs among people with left HL (r = 0.52, p = 0.008). Right HL emerged as a protective factor in the relationship between IETA and PTSS. Conclusions: An assessment of dominant HL can serve as one consideration among others when deploying HAWs in specific locations and roles, vis à vis IETA. Moreover, those found to have a higher risk for PTSSs based on their HL could be monitored more closely to prevent adverse reactions to IETA.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2373
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Volume13
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 18 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • PTSD
  • aid workers
  • atrocities
  • hemispheric lateralization
  • moderations

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine

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