Trauma, PTSD and the longer-term mental health burden amongst Vietnamese refugees
Uncertainty persists about the impact of trauma on the long-term mental health of resettled refugees. The present study aimed to assess the contributions of trauma and PTSD to overall mental disorder and related need for services amongst Vietnamese refugees resettled for over a decade in Australia. The data were compared with a survey of the host population.
The study involved a probabilistic sample of Vietnamese refugees (n = 1,161) resettled in Australia for 11 years. The Australian-born sample (n = 7,961) was drawn from a national survey using the same diagnostic measure, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
The PTSD prevalence for both groups was 3.5% and the diagnosis was present in 50% of Vietnamese and 19% of Australians with any mental disorder(s). Trauma made the largest contribution to mental disorder in the Vietnamese (odds ratio >8), whereas amongst Australians, younger age (odds ratio >3) and trauma (odds ratio >4) each played a role. PTSD was equally disabling in both populations but Vietnamese with the disorder reported more physical, and Australians more mental disability. Approximately one in three Australians and one in 10 Vietnamese with PTSD sought help from mental health professionals.
Trauma and PTSD continue to affect the mental health of Vietnamese refugees even after a decade of resettlement in Australia. The tendency of Vietnamese with PTSD to report symptoms of physical disability may create obstacles to their obtaining appropriate mental health care.
Key wordsPTSD refugee Vietnamese epidemiology trauma mental disorders
- 8.Gandek B, Ware JE, Aaronson NK, Giovanni A, Bjorner JB, Brazier JE, Bullinger M, Kaasa S, Leplege A, Prieto L, Sullivan M (1998) Cross-validation of item selection and scoring for the SF-12 health survey in nine countries: results from the IQOLA project. J Clin Epidemiol 51:1171–1178PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 9.Gong-Guy E (1987) California Southeast Asian mental health needs assessment study. California State Department of Mental Health, Oakland, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
- 15.Horowitz MJ (1993) Stress-response syndromes a review of posttraumatic stress and adjustment disorders. In: Wilson JP, Raphael B (eds) International handbook of traumatic stress syndromes. Plenum Press, New York, pp 49–60Google Scholar
- 16.Hosmer DW, Lemeshow S (2000) Applied logistic regression. Wiley & Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 20.Levy PS, Lemeshow S (2003) Sampling of populations: methods and applications. John Wiley & Sons Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 25.Mollica RF, McInnes K, Poole C, Tor S (1998) Dose-effect relationships of trauma to symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder among Cambodian survivors of mass violence. Brit J Psychiatry 173:482–488Google Scholar
- 29.Robinson WC (1998) Terms of refuge: the Indochinese Exodus and the International response. Zed Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 34.Silove D, Manicavasagar V, Coello M, Aroche J (2005) PTSD, depression and acculturation. Intervention 3:46–50Google Scholar