The stigma of widowhood in war and disaster affected communities of Sri Lanka: Contextual paths between trauma exposure and mental health distress

Alyssa Banford Witting, Jessica Lambert, Lee N. Johnson, Carly Goodkin, Thulitha Wickrama
Published Online:
01 Sep 2019
Volume/Issue No:
Early View Articles

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To add to the dialogue regarding the long‐term recovery and wellbeing of war and tsunami‐affected women in Sri Lanka, we utilised the Conservation of Resources Theory (COR, Hobfoll, 2009) to inform an investigation of direct and indirect effects. The study was specifically designed to assess how traumatic exposure may represent a form of loss which may associate with related losses in the form of external and internal stigma which may then associate with poor mental health outcomes. The data for this study were collected in 2016 from a sample of 379 widowed women in Eastern Sri Lanka; participant spouses died in the civil war, in the tsunami, or from health or other problems. Our analyses yielded a model suggesting associations between remembered trauma event exposure from war and disaster, external stigma, internalised stigma and mental health symptom distress. Results further yielded direct and indirect effects suggesting that trauma may represent a form of loss, and potentially lead to distress through the weight and challenges of stigma.

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