Trauma And Recovery Program, UNSW, Sydney, Australia
Exposure to deliberate, interpersonal trauma, such as rape and torture; followed by psychological distress, is a common feature of the refugee experience. Accordingly, many individuals with refugee backgrounds are exposed to repeated instances of injustice.
Despite this, relatively little is known about how these experiences impact on mental health. For example, it may be the case that individuals perceive ambiguous situations in their everyday life, particularly those related to perceived injustice.
To explore the relationship between trauma exposure, justice sensitivity and psychological distress among individuals with a refugee background.
97 participants from Arabic and Farsi speaking backgrounds (51.6% Male, 48.4% female) completed self-report measures of justice sensitivity, trauma exposure, PTSD, depression, and anger.
Path analysis suggests that trauma exposure is significantly associated with higher sensitivity to perceptions of being treated unfairly, and treating others unfairly. Being sensitive to the perception of treating others unfairly and being treated unfairly predicted depression and PTSD; while only the perception of being treated unfairly predicted anger. Finally, the perception of being treated unfairly mediated the relationship between trauma exposure and depression, as well as anger.
Sensitivity to perceived injustice among trauma-exposed populations should be studied more before strong conclusions can be made.
IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSION:
This is the first study to show the relationship between justice sensitivity and psychological distress among individuals with refugee backgrounds. Results suggest that sensitivity to perceptions of treating or being treated unfairly may be associated with depression, PTSD, and anger. If more research confirms these relationships, then sensitivity to injustice may be worth exploring during clinical interventions.