Predictors of mental health and quality of life in male tortured refugees

Jessica M Carlsson, Erik L Mortensen, Marianne Kastrup
Nordic Journal of Psychiatry 2006, 60 (1): 51-7
Some of the most frequently reported mental health problems in traumatized refugees are depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aim of this paper is to describe a group of tortured refugees referred to the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) and to study the importance of past trauma/torture and post-migratory factors for the present symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety and for health-related quality of life. The sample comprises 63 male tortured refugees admitted to a pre-treatment assessment at RCT. Data on personal background, trauma, present situation in Denmark, symptoms of depression, anxiety (Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25, HSCL-25, and Hamilton Depression Scale, HDS), PTSD (Harvard Trauma Questionnaire, HTQ), and on health-related quality of life (WHO Quality of life-Bref, WHOQOL-Bref) were collected through self-administered questionnaires and structured and semi-structured interviews. The scores in the questionnaires measuring emotional distress were high. Previous torture and trauma, lower education, fewer social contacts, no occupation and pain were identified as significant predictors of emotional distress. Few social contacts was a significant predictor of a lower health-related quality of life. Even after many years, past torture is significantly associated with emotional distress. Post-migratory factors are also significantly associated with emotional distress and health-related quality of life, and potentially modifiable factors, such as social relations and occupation, are of special interest.

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