Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 76–81 | Cite as

Prevalence of depressive symptoms among established vietnamese refugees in the united states

Detection in a primary care setting
  • Dedra Buchwald
  • Spero M. Manson
  • Norman G. Dinges
  • Ellen M. Keane
  • J. David Kinzie
Original Articles


Objective: To determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms among Vietnamese refugees who have lived in the United States for at least two months.

Design: A prospective and descriptive study using the Vietnamese Depression Scale (VDS). Scores of ≥ 13 on the VDS were considered indicative of depression.

Setting: Ten public health clinics in four states.

Patients/participants: Four hundred seventy-six consecutive adult Vietnamese refugees presenting for primary care.

Interventions: The VDS, an 18-item culture-specific self-report measure, was used to screen for depressive symptoms.

Measurements and main results: Twenty percent of these patients had scores of 13 or above. Although being female; being older; being divorced, separated, or widowed; and being poorly educated were significant univariate risk factors for screening positive, only the latter two were significant in a multivariate model. Physical complaints were common and induced considerable anxiety about health status, but psychological and emotional symptoms were even more prevalent. Patients scoring 13 or higher had a higher rate of endorsement for every item in the scale than did those scoring lower than 13.

Conclusions: This study substantiates the feasibility and importance of screening for depressive symptoms among Vietnamese refugees, particularly in primary care settings where they are most likely to seek care for both medical and psychological problems.

Key words

Vietnamese refugees depression primary care screening prediction 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dedra Buchwald
    • 1
  • Spero M. Manson
    • 2
  • Norman G. Dinges
    • 3
  • Ellen M. Keane
    • 2
  • J. David Kinzie
    • 4
  1. 1.the Department of Medicine, Harborview Medical CenterUniversity of WashingtonSeattle
  2. 2.the Department of Psychiatry, School of MedicineUniversity of Colorado Health Sciences CenterDenver
  3. 3.the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Human Services, College of Rural AlaskaUniversity of AlaskaFairbanks
  4. 4.the Department of Psychiatry, School of MedicineOregon Health Sciences UniversityPortland

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