Mental and cardiometabolic consequences of chronic exposure to violence

Cristina Mesa Vieira, University of Bern

The Colombian armed conflict is the longest standing worldwide. It includes different types and intensity levels of violence, constituting an array of stressors to its inhabitants with direct and indirect exposure. People exposed to violence due to armed conflict endure as well poor socioeconomic conditions that cause greater impairment in their general health status, commonly evidenced in higher rates chronic diseases such as mental and cardiometabolic disorders. Research on the health outcomes of violence exposure has targeted persons undergoing specific episodes of war and violence and has focused on their mental health-related consequences and association between violence and adversity, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been studied. However, the effects of chronic exposure to violence due to armed conflict and consensus on what constitutes chronic exposure to violence is yet to be established. Little is known about those psychological features that intermediate between the perception of violent events, the cumulative chronic stress and an increase in the risk of CVD. Social cognition has arisen as a key factor among persons who have been chronically exposed to violence, being altered in persons who have actively participated in armed conflicts, showing different social, psychological and biological patterns. Therefore, the aim of the study is to establish the association between chronic exposure to violence and mental and cardiometabolic disorders with stress as mediating biomarker and the cognitive system as modulating factor.

Keywords: cardiometabolic disorders, mental disorders, violence, psychosocial risk factors

Short Biography

Psychologist with a MSc. in Global Health and Public Policy from the University of Edinburgh. Former intern at the Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation Section and member of the drafting team for the World Drug Report 2011 at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna. In recent years, her work has focused on cardiovascular health, specializing in the design and implementation of cost-effective healthcare programs to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease in low- and middle-income settings. As a PhD student, she is working on the mental and cardiometabolic consequences of chronic exposure to violence.

« back to overview