A 3-year follow-up study of psychosocial functioning and general symptoms in settled refugees

Author(s) : Birgit LIE

10.1034/j.1600-0447.2002.01436.x

Abstract

Objective: Few community studies have addressed the longitudinal course of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in traumatized refugees in early resettlement. This longitudinal study investigated changes from the first (T1) to the second interview (T2), 3 years later. The relationship between traumatic exposures and psychosocial factors/psychological symptom load were examined.

Method: Local health professionals performed the interviews, using rating scales and a structured questionnaire. A total of 240 (52%) refugees attended.

Results: Unchanged Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 and increase in Harvard Trauma Questionnaire and post-traumatic stress symptoms-16 between T1 and T2 were found, indicating the severity and chronicity of problems. Mean post-traumatic stress score was 15% above cut-off. Severe life-threatening trauma and present life in exile with unemployment and unresolved family reunion were risk factors.

Conclusion: Early diagnostic interview should be followed by targeted approach. Pinpointing those in need of specialist services is essential. An interdisciplinary approach is necessary in this work.

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