Emotional Distress, Medical Utilization, and Disability Claims in Adult Refugees

Author(s): Peter CRONKRIGHT ; Christina D. LUPONE



The refugee health screener-15 (RHS-15) is utilized as a diagnostic proxy for common mental disorders in refugees. Studies are needed to determine its clinical and social utility. A retrospective chart analysis of adult refugees compared RHS-15 scores to utilization of medical services and presence of disability claims. Refugees with negative, positive, and highly positive RHS-15 scores attended 3.1, 4.4, and 5.7 mean primary care visits and 1.6, 2.8, and 4.4 mean non-primary care visits, respectively (p < .000). The 11% (43/392) claiming disability were 5.1 times more likely to have a positive RHS-15 (OR 4.3, 95% CI 2.1–8.8). A positive RHS-15 was not predictive of a disability claim (19% PPV), and those with a negative RHS-15 were unlikely to claim disability (96% NPV). The RHS-15 score correlates with visit utilization. A positive score is not predictive of a subsequent disability claim.


Refugee; Utilization; Disabled person; Mental disorder 

Tags: United States, Refugees, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Disability, Emotional health, Access to mental health care, Service utilisation, Screening

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