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Long-term mental health of Vietnamese refugees in the aftermath of trauma

  • Aina Basilier Vaage (a1), Per Hove Thomsen (a2), Derrick Silove (a3), Tore Wentzel-Larsen (a4), Thong Van Ta (a5) and Edvard Hauff (a6)...



There is no long-term prospective study (> 20 years) of the mental health of any refugee group.


To investigate the long-term course and predictors of psychological distress among Vietnamese refugees in Norway.


Eighty Vietnamese refugees, 57% of the original cohort previously interviewed in 1982 (T 1) and 1985 (T 2), completed a self-report questionnaire prior to a semi-structured interview. Mental health was measured using the Symptom Checklist–90–Revised (SCL–90–R).


The SCL–90–R mean Global Severity Index (GSI) decreased significantly from T 1 to T 3 (2005–6), but there was no significant change in the percentage reaching threshold scores (GSI =1.00). Trauma-related mental disorder on arrival and the trajectory of symptoms over the first 3 years of resettlement predicted mental health after 23 years.


Although the self-reported psychological distress decreased significantly over time, a substantial higher proportion of the refugee group still remained reaching threshold scores after 23 years of resettlement compared with the Norwegian population. The data suggest that refugees reaching threshold scores on measures such as the SCL–90–R soon after arrival warrant comprehensive clinical assessment.


Corresponding author

Dr Aina Basilier Vaage, BUPA, SUS, Box 8100, 4068 Stavanger, Norway. Email:


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The study was supported by grants from the Western Norway Regional Health Authority, the Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, University of Bergen, the Legacy of Sommer, Lundbeck Pharma AS, the Meltzers Høyskolefond, Stavanger University Hospital and Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål Department of Psychiatry.

Declaration of interest




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Vaage et al. supplementary material
Supplementary Table S1-S3

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Long-term mental health of Vietnamese refugees in the aftermath of trauma

  • Aina Basilier Vaage (a1), Per Hove Thomsen (a2), Derrick Silove (a3), Tore Wentzel-Larsen (a4), Thong Van Ta (a5) and Edvard Hauff (a6)...
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