Posttraumatic Cognitions and Depressive Symptoms in War and Disaster Affected Widows in Sri Lanka: The Role of Community Support


War, disaster, Widows, Sri Lanka, Depression, Posttraumatic cognitions


In this study the authors evaluated the associations between war- and disaster-related problems and indicators of psychological distress (posttraumatic cognitions and culturally-specific symptoms of depression) among a sample of Tamil widows in the Eastern Provence of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, community support was evaluated as a mediator of these associations. Surveys were administered to women (N = 156) in an interview format by trained research assistants who were native Tamil speakers. Mediation hypotheses were evaluated using path analysis. Results showed that war-related problems, but not disaster-related losses, was significantly associated with community support and posttraumatic cognitions, such that higher number of war-problems was associated with lower community support and more posttraumatic cognitions. Community support had a significant negative association with posttraumatic cognitions and depression. Additionally, we found evidence that war-related problems was indirectly associated with depression through community support. Although the magnitude of associations was small, results suggest that contextual problems resulting from years of armed conflict may be associated with less support from one’s community which, in turn, is associated with increased psychological distress. Limitations and implications for intervention and future research are discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Lambert, J.E., Witting, A.B., Anderson, S.R., Ponnamperuma, L., & Wickrama, T. (published online 9/23/17). Posttraumatic cognitions and depressive symptoms in war and disaster affected widows in Sri Lanka: The role of community support. Contemporary Family Therapy. DOI: 10.1007/s10591-017-9441-y

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Contemporary Family Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor