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.


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