Skip to main content


Log in

Traumatic events, migration characteristics and psychiatric symptoms among Somali refugees

Preliminary communication

  • Published:
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Background: Each refugee group experiences specific migration and resettlement experiences. There are no epidemiological data on risk factors for psychiatric symptoms among adult Somalis in the UK. Methods: We interviewed a community sample of 180 Somalis. We assessed the relationship between symptoms of psychosis (BPRS), anxiety and depression (SCL–90) and suicidal thinking (BDI) and migration-related experiences such as traumatic events, immigration difficulties, employment and income. Results: Anxiety and depression was incrementally more common with each pre-migration traumatic event (OR per trauma event = 1.31, 1.06–1.62, p = 0.01). Shortages of food, being lost in a war situation, and being close to death and suffering serious injury were each related to specific psychiatric symptoms. Suicidal thinking was more common among Somalis who were unemployed before migration and those using qat in the UK. Conclusions: War-related experiences, occupational status before migration and current Qat use are risk factors for psychiatric symptoms among Somali refugees.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

Received: 26 March 2002 / Accepted: 29 July 2002

Correspondence to Dr. K. Bhui

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bhui, K., Abdi, A., Abdi, M. et al. Traumatic events, migration characteristics and psychiatric symptoms among Somali refugees . Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 38, 35–43 (2003).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: