Prevalence of serious mental disorder in 7000 refugees resettled in western countries

Added August 3, 2017

Citation: Fazel M, Wheeler J, Danesh J. Prevalence of serious mental disorder in 7000 refugees resettled in western countries: A systematic review. Lancet 2005;365(9467):1309-14.

Resettled refugees in Western countries may have higher prevalence rates of serious mental health disorders than non-refugee populations, though valid psychiatric measures and homogenous study populations are required to better estimate prevalence figures.

Resettled refugees possess many risk factors for serious mental disorders yet the prevalence rates for disorders in refugee populations are currently unknown. Psychiatric surveys were reviewed to provide current diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, psychotic illness, and generalized anxiety disorder in refugee populations. This meta-analysis of 20 eligible studies suggests that approximately 10% of refugees in Western countries have post-traumatic stress disorder, 5% have major depression, and 4% have a generalised anxiety disorder. However, limitations of these figures include the difficulty in accurately assessing psychiatric disorders and lack of validity of psychiatric measures for refugees. In addition, the included surveys were highly heterogeneous as they were obtained over several decades of research in varying host countries.

 

Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the health of refugees and asylum seekers but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the health of refugees and asylum seekers on the basis of this summary alone.

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