Trailblazing study on families of missing people
The first- ever study, not just in Sri Lanka but in the world, on the psychological impact on families of missing persons has been conducted by two local psychiatrists.
Family members of missing individuals unsure whether their loved ones are alive or dead are at a higher risk of psychological illness, the evidence-based landmark study carried out in the south has found.
Mothers and wives were particularly vulnerable, the study has unearthed, with the ‘psychological morbidity’ of the family members of the ‘disappeared’ or ‘missing’ including Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD).
The study has been conducted by Prof. Shehan Williams, Professor in Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya and Dr. Amila Isuru, earlier of the University Psychiatry Unit of the North Colombo Teaching Hospital, Ragama, now serving as the Acting Consultant Psychiatrist of the Mannar Hospital.
The research has been published in the top-notch ‘Psychological Medicine’ journal of the Cambridge University Press, possibly another first for Sri Lanka, the Sunday Times learns.
Grounding their study in the districts of Matara, Galle and Hambantota, they have focused on families who are living with the burden of having a missing person from the 1988-89 youth insurrection, the December 2004 tsunami and the 30-year ethnic conflict.