To examine the relationship between war experiences and war-related distress in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The survey was performed in the late 2003 on a representative sample of 3313 respondents. The face-to-face interviews included 15 items on war-related distress and 24 items on war experiences. From these items we developed the War-related Distress Scale, the Direct War Experiences Scale, and the Indirect War Experiences Scale. Regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between war-related distress symptoms and war experiences variables, controlling for a range of other variables.
Almost half of the respondents did not report any war-related distress symptoms, while about 13% reported 7 or more symptoms. Direct war experiences had a significant effect on war-related distress even eight years after the war, while indirect war experiences showed no significant effect on war-related distress. We found that marital status weakly decreased war-related distress, while household size increased it.
Direct war experiences seem to have a long-lasting traumatic effect on a substantial number of residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina.