Author(s): Tobias R. SPILLER ; Matthis SCHICK ; Ulrich SCHNYDER ; Richard A. BRYANT ; Angela NICKERSON ; Naser MORINA
BACKGROUND: Most research on refugee mental health has focused on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Besides PTSD, however, traumatised refugees are often burdened by comorbid somatic and psychiatric conditions, as well as postmigration living difficulties (PMLD). It is unclear how these conditions interfere with presentation and treatment of PTSD.
METHODS: This preliminary cross-sectional study investigated 134 severely traumatised refugees and asylum seekers in treatment in two psychiatric outpatient units in Switzerland. Trauma exposure, PMLD, somatisation and explosive anger were assessed and related to symptom severity of PTSD using correlation and regression analyses.
RESULTS: PTSD symptoms were significantly related to somatisation, anger, PMLD and trauma exposure. Regression analysis revealed that PTSD symptoms were mainly predicted by somatisation and anger.
CONCLUSIONS: Symptom severity of PTSD is associated with somatisation, explosive anger and, to a lesser extent, PMLD. Standard PTSD treatment may benefit from implementing targeted strategies to assess and address these factors in traumatised refugees.
Key words: PTSD; explosive anger; comorbidity; somatisation; refugees