• Journal Article

A population-based survey of loss and psychological distress during war


Hourani, L., Armenian, H., Zurayk, H., & Afifi, L. (1986). A population-based survey of loss and psychological distress during war. Social Science and Medicine, 23(3), 269-275.


Research on the psychological effects of war has been conducted on a limited number of population groups and has generally failed to study the experience of particular losses while warfare was still in progress. This paper presents the results of a household surveillance study of 5788 displaced and non-displaced civilians conducted during the summer 1982 war in Lebanon. In order to determine demographic differences in the psychological response to war and help identify population groups possibly at-risk for mental disorder, an interview checklist of symptoms of psychological distress was developed and administered to a key informant in each household. The occurrence of psychological distress symptoms varied significantly by age, sex, nationality, socio-economic status, loss of physical health and economic loss. A more detailed analysis of the psychological effect of displacement or loss of one's home during war is presented. Displacement group differentials suggest that psychological distress may be more frequently perceived post-war and that both social integration and social isolation may play important roles in mediating the perception of psychological distress during war