Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 339–344 | Cite as

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

  • Peter CronkrightEmail author
  • Christina D. Lupone
Original Paper


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 



This study was not funded by any grants.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All studies involving review of medical records for research purposes at Upstate Medical University must be submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The Upstate Medical University IRB retains the right to decide if a project is exempt or requires IRB review, based on the investigator’s request and that all procedures performed involving human participants are in accordance with the ethical standards of the IRB and federal regulations. The IRB determined that this study was exempt from requiring full IRB review.

Research Involving Animal Participants

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Global Health and Translational ScienceState University of New York Upstate Medical UniversitySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineState University of New York Upstate Medical UniversitySyracuseUSA
  3. 3.Department of Public Health and Preventive MedicineState University of New York Upstate Medical UniversitySyracuseUSA

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