postconflict, widows, COR theory, posttraumatic stress, Sri Lanka


Objective: In this study, we applied conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 1989) to explain high rates of depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) among war- and disaster-affected Tamil widows in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. We hypothesized exposure to potentially traumatic events and severity of current contextual problems would influence PTSS and depressive symptoms directly and indirectly through loss of psychological (view of self), environmental (sense of community), and energy (physical health) resources. Method: Trained research assistants interviewed a convenience sample (N = 381) of women, using established measures of the constructs of interest. Data were analyzed using path analysis in MPlus. The significance of the indirect effects was tested using bootstrapping. Results: The model had an acceptable fit (x􏰁2 = 4.06, df 􏰀= 1, p <􏰂 .05; Log Likelihood = 􏰃3344.26􏰇; AIC =􏰀 6760.59; BIC 􏰀= 6894.64; RMSEA 􏰀= 0.09; CFI 􏰀= .99; TLI =􏰀 .91; SRMR =􏰀 .02) and explained approximately 38% of the variance in both PTSS and depression. Contextual problems were significantly associated with PTSS and depression both directly and indirectly through deleterious effects on view of self, health status, and sense of community. Degree of trauma exposure was directly associated with indicators of distress. Conclusion: Results support the utility of COR theory in this context and hold implications for research and program development.

Original Publication Citation

Lambert, J. E., Witting, A. B., James, S., Ponnamperuma, L., & Wickrama, T. (2019). Toward understanding posttraumatic stress and depression among trauma-affected widows in Sri Lanka. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 11(5), 551–558.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor