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Prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and somatisation in recently arrived refugees in Germany: an epidemiological study

  • Y. Nesterko (a1), D. Jäckle (a1), M. Friedrich (a1), L. Holzapfel (a1) and H. Glaesmer (a1)...

Abstract

Aims

Despite recent worldwide migratory movements, there are only a few studies available that report robust epidemiological data on the mental health in recent refugee populations. In the present study, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and somatisation were assessed using an epidemiological approach in refugees who have recently arrived in Germany from different countries.

Methods

The study was conducted in a reception facility for asylum-seekers in Leipzig, Germany. A total of 1316 adult individuals arrived at the facility during the survey period (May 2017–June 2018), 569 of whom took part in the study (N = 67 pilot study and N = 502 study sample; response rate 43.2%). The questionnaire (11 different languages) included sociodemographic and flight-related questions as well as standardised instruments for assessing PTSD (PCL-5), depression (PHQ-9) and somatisation (SSS-8). Unweighted and weighted prevalence rates of PTSD, depression and somatisation were presented stratified by sex and age groups.

Results

According to established cut-off scores, 49.7% of the respondents screened positive for at least one of the mental disorders investigated, with 31% suffering from somatisation, 21.7% from depression and 34.9% from PTSD; prevalence rates of major depression, other depressive syndromes and PTSD were calculated according to the DSM-5, which indicated rates of 10.3, 17.6 and 28.2%, respectively.

Conclusions

The findings underline the dramatic mental health burden present among refugees and provide important information for health care planning. They also provide important information for health care systems and political authorities in receiving countries and strongly indicate the necessity of establishing early psychosocial support for refugees suffering from psychological distress.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Y. Nesterko, E-mail: yuriy.nesterko@medizin.uni-leipzig.de

References

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