Traumatic experiences and psychological distress among an urban refugee population

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Refugee trauma, Torture, PTSD, Psychological distress


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


While a growing literature has addressed the psychological consequences of torture and refugee trauma, most studies have focused on homogeneous samples drawn from a single region. Thus, relatively little research has attempted to identify demographic or experiential factors that might help explain different levels of distress in these individuals. We measured depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in a convenience sample of refugees and survivors of torture seeking treatment in a torture treatment program (N=325). We found 81.1% of patients had clinically significant anxiety, 84.5% had clinically significant depressive symptoms, and 45.7% had significant PTSD symptoms. Regression analyses revealed that anxiety and depressive symptom were significant higher among women and those who reported death threats as part of their traumatic experiences. Symptoms of PTSD were also predicted by death threats, but were also influenced by the experience of rape, family torture experiences, religion, and age. The clinical implications of these results are discussed.

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