Post-traumatic torture· disorders in Uganda

Seggane Musisi, Eugine Kinyanda, Helen Liebling, R. Mayengo-Kiziri

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24 Citations (Scopus)


This is a three-year retrospective study of the effect of torture on patients attending a specialized torture treatment centre, The African Centre forTreannent and Rehabilitation ofTorture Victims (ACTV) in Kampala, Uganda. A total of 310 patient records were reviewed and information on socio-demographics, torture events, sequelae of torture, and the treatment interventions offered was collected using a pre-tested question-naire. The most common method of torture included: kicking and beat-ing (79.7%), rape (26%), and witnessing the torture of family mem-bers, relatives, and other victims (48%).Among the perpetrators of torture, the army accounted for 85.8% of the torture and armed rebels were responsible for 7.6% of the torture. The surviving victims were mostly women of a peasant, low-income, and low-education background.Most of the torture survivors developed various psychological disorders including chronic (and complex) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)(75.4%), depression (28%), anxiety disorders (17%), somatoform disorders (32%), and chronic pain disorders/ syndromes (82%).A number of patients also had physical sequelae of torture including fractures (43.5%), hernias (7.7%), and sexually transmitted dis-eases contracted through rape (60%). The treatment offered included: psychotherapy, physiotherapy, and to a minor degree psychopharmaco therapy. There was a significant symptom reduction with treatment. How-ever, in some cases there was only minimal improvement. Torture is often accompanied by development of chronic PTSD as well as physical and social sequelae. Our findings reflected this fact in keeping with the established literature. This emphasizes the need for early intervention and prevention through universal respect of human rights and early conflict-resolution through good govern-ance and democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2000


We thank DANIDA for funding this research through the African Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) and the African Psycare Research Organisation (APRO) for availing their facilities to the research team.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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