Western conceptualizations and Eastern experience: A cross-cultural study of traumatic stress reactions among Tibetan refugees in India

Maaike A. Terheggen, Margaret S. Stroebe, Rolf J. Kleber

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This study investigated the nature and impact of traumatic experiences among Tibetan refugees in India. It explored the applicability of western conceptualizations of reactions to traumatic events among this cultural group. A randomly selected sample of refugee camp students was assessed on measures of psychological and physical complaints, and on impact as well as severity of traumatic experiences. Respondents had experienced multiple traumatic events. The majority reported ongoing health problems. More than half demonstrated symptoms of intrusion-avoidance. Those with more traumatic experiences reported more symptoms of anxiety and depression (psychologically and, particularly, somatically manifested). Cultural differences in types of experienced traumatic events and manifestations of distress are discussed, as are implications for cross-cultural trauma research using western conceptualizations and instruments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-403
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of traumatic stress
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Refugees
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tibet
  • Western World

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