General Characteristics of Abductees
Of 2,867 respondents with complete information on experience of abduction, 946 (33%) reported they had been abducted at one time or another during the course of the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda. Among them, 46% stated that they had been abducted on two or more occasions. In the Acholi sub-region, almost half of the respondents (49%) stated that they had been abducted compared to one-fifth (22%) in the Lango subregion and one-tenth (11%) in the Teso subregion. This pattern is reflected in the proportion of former abductees by ethnic group since ethnic distribution roughly follows administrative limits.
As shown in Table women accounted for 410 (43%) of the 946 respondents who reported experiencing abduction. Males were more likely to have reported abduction (ORundj = 1.44, 95% C.I. = 1.23, 1.68) compared to females. The mean age of respondents who reported abduction was 35.3 at the time of the survey (S.D. 13.51) similar to the mean age of those who did not report abduction (35.2). At the time of their first abduction, respondents who were held in captivity averaged 25.8 years old (S.D. 13.57). A majority of those who were held in captivity were in a committed relationship, either married (71.8%) or in a partnership (3.6%). About a quarter (24.8%) of the abducted had no education and 40% had some but incomplete primary education. Formerly abducted respondents further self-identified as Catholic (70.2%) more frequently than non-abducted respondents (57.8%).
Socio-Demographic Profile of Respondents by Abduction Status
Of those who reported abduction, 426 (45%) were held for less than a day, 199 (21%) were held captive for one to seven days, and 122 (13%) were held for between one week and one month. One hundred and two respondents (11%) were held for about one to six months and 97 (10%) for more than six months.
Exposure to Traumatic Events and War Crimes
Exposures to four categories of violent traumatic events were assessed: direct victim (e.g., being beaten), witness to violence, secondary exposure (e.g., loss of a family member), and forced to use violence (e.g., being forced to loot or beat someone). While exposure to violence was widespread among respondents, former LRA abductees reported higher level of exposure in all four categories (see Table ). The average cumulative number of reported events within each category was also higher among former LRA abductees (p-value < .001).
Exposure to Traumatic Events and War Crimes
Among those who were abducted less than one day, 67% reported they were released by the LRA compared to 32% of those held captive one to seven days and 18 among those held captive between eight days and one month (see Table ). Conversely, 78% of those who were held for six months or more escaped compared to 57% among those captive one to seven days and 26% among those abducted less than one day.
Experiences Returning Home among Former Lord's Resistance Army Abductees
Thirteen percent of the respondents said they had spent time in a reception center (see Table ). One half (49%) of those abducted for six months or more reported to a reception center, compared to 2% of those abducted for a day or less. Overall, men were 1.76 times more likely to report that they had gone through a reception center than women (OR = 1.77, 95% C.I. = 1.18, 2.63, p-value = .005). However, the proportion of women going through reception centers was higher than that of men, at 52% compared to 47% (χ2 = 7.96, df = 1, p-value = 0.005). Among those who went through a reception center, four out of five (88%) reported that the reception center helped them return to their communities, and almost half reported that they received follow-up visits from reception center staff.
Thirty-nine percent of former LRA abductees reported problems upon returning to their home communities. In addition, former LRA abductees who spent six or more months with the rebels (68%) reported more problems after returning home than those who stayed less time. While physical and material concerns were frequently mentioned ("health" and "injury": 18.9%; "loss of property" and "goods": 10.6%), most of those who returned reported mental and social problems ("mentally do not feel well": 10.6%; "problems adjusting to life outside the bush": 16.7%; "relationship problems with family": 10.8%).
Symptoms of PTSD and Depression Among Former Abductees
Among respondents with a complete response to all items on the PCL-C and the Johns Hopkins Symptom Checklist who reported being abducted, 67% met the criteria for symptoms of PTSD and 40% met the criteria for symptom depression, compared to 51% and 25.9% respectively among those who were not abducted (see Table ). Compared to non-abductees, those abducted were twice as likely to meet the criteria for symptoms of PTSD (ORundj = 2.12, 95% C.I. = 1.81, 2.51) and symptoms of depression (ORundj = 2.07, 95% C.I. = 1.75, 2.45). Respondents abducted for six months or more frequently met the criteria for symptoms of PTSD (80%) and symptoms of depression (47%) than those abducted for shorter periods.
Psychosocial Well-being Among Former Lord's Resistance Army Abductees
After statistically controlling for the effect of other variables by employing multivariate logistic regression, reporting symptoms of PTSD was associated with gender, ethnicity, problems returning home, cumulative exposure as a witness, and cumulative exposure to forced acts of violence (see Table ). Females were almost nine times more likely to report symptoms of PTSD (ORadj = 8.84, 95% C.I. = 6.07, 12.88). Among abductees, Acholi were three times more likely to meet symptom criteria for PTSD than Iteso (ORadj = 3.05, 95% C.I. = 1.59, 5.87). Langi were twice as likely to meet symptom criteria for PTSD than Iteso (ORadj = 2.15, 95% C.I. = 1.05, 4.41). There was no significant difference between Acholi and Langi respondents. Cumulative number of traumatic events witnessed (ORadj = 1.21, 95% C.I. = 1.10, 1.32) and cumulative number of forced acts of violence (ORadj = 1.43, 95% C.I. = 1.18, 1.74) among abductees were associated with meeting criteria for symptoms of PTSD. Finally, former abductees who reported difficulties coming home to their community after abduction were nearly three times more likely to meet criteria for symptoms of PTSD at the time of the survey (ORadj = 2.97, 95% C.I. = 2.09, 4.24).
Statistically Significant Associations of Socio-demographic and Exposure Characteristics with Symptoms of PTSD and Depression
Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that meeting symptoms of depression was associated with gender, relationship with family, difficulties returning home, cumulative direct violent traumatic exposure, and cumulative exposure to forced acts of violence (see Table ). Interactions between age and gender were also significant. Among abductees, women were twice as likely as men to report symptoms of depression (ORadj = 2.11, 95% C.I. = 1.22, 3.63). Due to statistical interaction between age and gender, each one-year increase in age is associated with multiplicative increase in odds of having symptoms of depression by 3% among men and decrease in odds of having symptoms of depression by 2% among women. This means that while male abductees may have an increased risk of having symptoms of depression as they age, the risk for female abductees may decrease with age. Higher self-reported positive scores for abductees' relationships with their family, friends, and community were associated with a decrease in odds of meeting the criteria for symptoms of depression (ORadj = 0.90, 95% C.I. = 0.83, 0.97). Likewise, reported problems when returning were positively associated with the odds of meeting the criteria for symptoms of depression (ORadj = 2.24, 95% C.I. = 1.63, 3.08). The cumulative number of general traumatic exposures (ORadj = 1.18, 95% C.I. = 1.03, 1.33) and cumulative number of forced acts of violence (ORadj = 2.24, 95% C.I. = 1.63, 3.08) were associated with increased odds of meeting the criteria for symptoms of depression among abductees. The following variables were not statistically associated with either symptoms of PTSD or depression in the multivariate analyses described above: 1) length of abduction, 2) going through a reception center, 3) being married or in partnership relationship.