Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 259–265 | Cite as

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

  • Jessica E. LambertEmail author
  • Alyssa Banford Witting
  • Shayne Anderson
  • Lakmal Ponnamperuma
  • Thulitha Wickrama
Original Paper


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.


War, disaster Widows Sri Lanka Depression Posttraumatic cognitions 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica E. Lambert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alyssa Banford Witting
    • 2
  • Shayne Anderson
    • 3
  • Lakmal Ponnamperuma
    • 4
  • Thulitha Wickrama
    • 5
  1. 1.Psychology and Child Development DepartmentCalifornia State University StanislausTurlockUSA
  2. 2.Couple and Family Therapy ProgramsAlliant International UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyKaatsu International UniversityColomboSri Lanka
  5. 5.Clinical Psychology Graduate ProgramUniversity of ColomboColomboSri Lanka

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