An Exploration of PTSD and Coping Strategies: Response to the Experience of Being in a Bomb Attack in Iraq

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Although existing evidence suggests that bombing attacks leave behind psychological distress and poorer mental health, little research has focused on this topic in Iraq. This study aimed to explore how people who have experienced a bomb attack in Iraq make sense of their experience and identify the ways in which they attempt to cope with this event. A qualitative approach was taken. Nine adults (male = 4, female = 5) who experienced a bomb attack for the first time were recruited for the study. Semistructured interviews were conducted. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and data were analyzed thematically using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Participants' accounts revealed that exposure to bomb attack has a significant effect on core beliefs of the self; traumatic states, such as anxiety and preoccupation with death and a permanent sense of threat; and a negative effect on interpersonal relationships and personal interest. However, participants also demonstrated a variety of coping strategies, both in relation to the bomb attack itself and other life circumstances, which preceded or coincided with the bomb attack. The findings illustrate key aspects of the experience, coping process, and highlight issues to consider for those caring for people who are suffering from this traumatic experience. This study adds to our understanding of how psychological difficulties may continue and affect recovery. © The Author(s) 2012.

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