Prevalence and Correlates of Psychological Distress and Psychiatric Disorders in Asylum Seekers and Refugees Resettled in an Italian Catchment Area
- 422 Downloads
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.
KeywordsAsylum 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.
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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- 1.UNHCR. Global trends. Forced displacement in 2015. Geneva: United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees; 2017.Google Scholar
- 2.Giacco D, Priebe S. WHO Europe policy brief on migration and health: mental health care for refugees. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2016.Google Scholar
- 3.Priebe S, Giacco D, El-Nagib R. Public health aspects of mental health among migrants and refugees: a review of the evidence on mental health care for refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants in the WHO European Region. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2016.Google Scholar
- 7.Miller KE, Rasmussen A. The mental health of civilians displaced by armed conflict: an ecological model of refugee distress. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2016;4:1–10.Google Scholar
- 12.Sheehan DV, Lecrubier Y, Sheehan HK, Amorim P, Janavas J, Weiller E, Hergueta T, Baker R, Dunbar GC. The Mini-International Neuropsychiatry Interview (M.I.N.I.): the development and validation of a structured diagnostic psychiatric interview for DSM-IV and ICD-10. J Clin Psychiatry. 1998;59(Suppl 20):22–33.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- 17.Chen W, Hall BJ, Ling L, Renzaho AM. Pre-migration and post-migration factors associated with mental health in humanitarian migrants in Australia and the moderation effect of post-migration stressors: findings from the first wave data of the BNLA cohort study. Lancet. 2017;4(3):218–29.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- 21.Nosè M, Ballette F, Bighelli I, Turrini G, Purgato M, Tol W, Priebe S, Barbui C. Psychosocial interventions for post-traumatic stress disorder in refugees and asylum seekers resettled in high-income countries: systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(2):e0171030.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 22.Tribe RH, Sendt KV, Tracy DK. A systematic review of psychosocial interventions for adult refugees and asylum seekers. J Ment Health. 2017:1–15.Google Scholar