Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 98–107 | Cite as

Kidnapping and Mental Health in Iraqi Refugees: The Role of Resilience

  • A. Michelle Wright
  • Yousif R. Talia
  • Abir Aldhalimi
  • Carissa L. Broadbridge
  • Hikmet Jamil
  • Mark A. Lumley
  • Nnamdi Pole
  • Bengt B. ArnetzEmail author
  • Judith E. Arnetz
Original Paper


Although kidnapping is common in war-torn countries, there is little research examining its psychological effects. Iraqi refugees (N = 298) were assessed upon arrival to the U.S. and 1 year later. At arrival, refugees were asked about prior trauma exposure, including kidnapping. One year later refugees were assessed for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression disorder (MDD) using the SCID-I. Individual resilience and narratives of the kidnapping were also assessed. Twenty-six refugees (9 %) reported being kidnapped. Compared to those not kidnapped, those who were had a higher prevalence of PTSD, but not MDD, diagnoses. Analyses examining kidnapping victims revealed that higher resilience was associated with lower rates of PTSD. Narratives of the kidnapping were also discussed. This study suggests kidnapping is associated with PTSD, but not MDD. Additionally, kidnapping victims without PTSD reported higher individual resilience. Future studies should further elucidate risk and resilience mechanisms.


Kidnapping Refugees Resilience Posttraumatic stress disorder Depression 



This research was supported by a Grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, Award Number R01MH085793) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (P30ES020957). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIMH, nor NIEHS. The authors wish to thank Evone Barkho, M.D., MPH, and Monty Fakhouri, M.S., for their work in collecting data and Mrs. Raja Yaldo for her help with data entry. Sincere thanks to Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, The Kurdish Human Rights Watch, and the Catholic Services of Macomb County for their assistance in participant recruitment. The authors also extend their gratitude to the refugees who participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Michelle Wright
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yousif R. Talia
    • 1
  • Abir Aldhalimi
    • 1
    • 4
  • Carissa L. Broadbridge
    • 1
    • 5
  • Hikmet Jamil
    • 1
    • 6
  • Mark A. Lumley
    • 2
  • Nnamdi Pole
    • 7
  • Bengt B. Arnetz
    • 1
    • 6
    • 8
    Email author
  • Judith E. Arnetz
    • 1
    • 6
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine and Public Health SciencesWayne State University School of MedicineDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  3. 3.Office of the Vice President for ResearchWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Detroit MercyDetroitUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologySaint Xavier UniversityChicagoUSA
  6. 6.Department of Family MedicineMichigan State University College of Human MedicineEast LansingUSA
  7. 7.Department of PsychologySmith CollegeNorthamptonUSA
  8. 8.Department of Public Health and Caring SciencesUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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