Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 263–270 | Cite as

Prevalence and Correlates of Psychological Distress and Psychiatric Disorders in Asylum Seekers and Refugees Resettled in an Italian Catchment Area

  • Michela NosèEmail author
  • Giulia Turrini
  • Maria Imoli
  • Francesca Ballette
  • Giovanni Ostuzzi
  • Francesca Cucchi
  • Chiara Padoan
  • Mirella Ruggeri
  • Corrado Barbui
Original Paper


In recent years there has been a progressive rise in the number of asylum seekers and refugees displaced from their country of origin, with significant social, economic, humanitarian and public health implications. The aim of this study is to describe the frequency and correlates of psychological distress and psychiatric disorders in asylum seekers and refugees resettled in an Italian catchment area. In the catchment area of Verona, all male asylum seekers and refugees aged 18 or above included in the Italian protection system for asylum seekers and refugees during a period of 1 year were screened for psychological distress and psychiatric disorders using validated questionnaires. During the study period, 109 asylum seekers or refugees were recruited. The frequency of traumatic events experienced was very high. More than one-third of the participants (36%) showed clinically relevant psychological distress, and one-fourth (25%), met the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis, mainly PTSD and depressive disorders. In multivariate analyses, time after departure, length of stay in the host country and number of traumatic events were independent factors associated with psychological distress and psychiatric disorders. In an unselected sample of male asylum seekers and refugees, after around 1 year of resettlement in an Italian catchment area, the frequency of psychological distress and psychiatric disorders was substantial and clinically relevant. Health care systems should include a mental health component to recognise and effectively treat mental health conditions.


Asylum seeker Refugee Psychological distress Mental health 



This project was supported by the “Programma Ricerca di Base 2015” of the University of Verona.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michela Nosè
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giulia Turrini
    • 1
  • Maria Imoli
    • 1
  • Francesca Ballette
    • 1
  • Giovanni Ostuzzi
    • 1
  • Francesca Cucchi
    • 2
  • Chiara Padoan
    • 2
  • Mirella Ruggeri
    • 1
  • Corrado Barbui
    • 1
  1. 1.WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health and Service Evaluation, Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, Section of PsychiatryUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly
  2. 2.Italian Council for RefugeesVeronaItaly

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