Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

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)...

Abstract

Background

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

Aims

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

Method

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).

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr Aina Basilier Vaage, BUPA, SUS, Box 8100, 4068 Stavanger, Norway. Email: aina.b.vaage@lyse.net

Footnotes

Hide All

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

None.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
1 Hauff, E. The stresses of war, organised violence and exile: a prospective community cohort study of the mental health of Vietnamese refugees in Norway [dissertation]. Instituttgruppe fur medisinke basalfag, University of Oslo, 1998.
2 Hauff, E, Vaglum, P. Organised violence and the stress of exile. Predictors of mental health in a community cohort of Vietnamese refugees three years after resettlement. Br J Psychiatry 1995; 166: 360–7.
3 Mollica, RF, Caridad, KR, Massagli, MP. Longitudinal study of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and changes in traumatic memories over time in Bosnian refugees. J Nerv Ment Dis 2007; 195: 572–9.
4 Lie, B. A 3-year follow-up study of psychosocial functioning and general symptoms in settled refugees. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2002; 106: 415–25.
5 Silove, D, Ekblad, S. How well do refugees adapt after resettlement in Western countries? Acta Psychiatr Scand 2002; 106: 401–2.
6 Vassend, O, Lian, L, Andersen, HT. Norske versjoner av NEO-Personality Inventory, Symptom Checklist 90 Revised og Giessen Subjective Complaints List. Del I. Tidsskr Nor Psykologforen 1992; 29: 1150–60.
7 Derogatis, LR. SCL–90–R Administration, Scoring and Procedures Manual–I for the (Revised) Version. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 1977.
8 Ghazinour, M, Richter, J, Eisemann, M. Quality of life among Iranian refugees resettled in Sweden. J Immigr Health 2004; 6: 7181.
9 Araya, M, Chotai, J, Komproe, IH, de Jong, JTVM. Effect of trauma on quality of life as mediated by mental distress and moderated by coping and social support among postconflict displaced Ethiopians. Qual Life Res 2007; 16: 915–27.
10 Thapa, SB, Hauff, E. Psychological distress among displaced persons during an armed conflict in Nepal. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 2005; 40: 672–9.
11 Hermansson, AC. The mental health of war-wounded refugees: an 8-year follow-up. J Nerv Ment Dis 2002; 190: 374–80.
12 Silove, D, Manicavasagar, V, Mollica, R, Thai, M, Khiek, D, Lavelle, J, et al. Screening for depression and PTSD in a Cambodian population unaffected by war: comparing the Hopkins Symptom Checklist and Harvard Trauma Questionnaire with the structured clinical interview. J Nerv Ment Dis 2007; 195: 152–7.
13 Pinheiro, JC, Bates, DM. Mixed Effects Models in S and S-plus. Springer, 2000.
14 Benjamini, Y, Hochberg, Y. Controlling the false discovery rate: a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. J R Stat Soc Ser B 1995; 57: 289330.
15 Steel, Z, Silove, D, Phan, T, Bauman, A. Long-term effect of psychological trauma on the mental health of Vietnamese refugees resettled in Australia: a population-based study. Lancet 2002; 360: 1056–62.
16 Schweitzer, R, Melville, F, Steel, Z, Lacherez, P. Trauma, post-migration living difficulties, and social support as predictors of psychological adjustment in resettled Sudanese refugees. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2006; 40: 179–87.
17 Porter, M, Haslam, N. Predisplacement and postdisplacement factors associated with mental health of refugees and internally displaced persons: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2005; 294: 602–12.
18 Marshall, GN, Schell, TL, Elliott, MN, Berthold, SM, Chun, CA. Mental health of Cambodian refugees 2 decades after resettlement in the United States. JAMA 2005; 294: 571–9.
19 Roth, G, Ekblad, S, Agren, H. A longitudinal study of PTSD in a sample of adult mass-evacuated Kosovars, some of whom returned to their home country. Eur Psychiatry 2006; 21: 152–9.
20 Hinton, D, Chau, H, Nguyen, L, Nguyen, M, Pham, T, Quinn, S, et al. Panic disorder among Vietnamese refugees attending a psychiatric clinic: prevalence and subtypes. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2001; 23: 337–44.
21 Smith Fawzi, MC, Murphy, E, Pham, T, Lin, L, Poole, C, Mollica, RF. The validity of screening for post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression among Vietnamese former political prisoners. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1997; 95: 8793.
22 Steel, Z, Chey, T, Silove, D, Marnane, C, Bryant, RA, van Ommeren, M. Association of torture and other potentially traumatic events with mental health outcomes among populations exposed to mass conflict and displacement: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA 2009; 302: 537–49.
23 Flaherty, JA, Gaviria, MF, Pathak, D, Mitchell, T, Wintrob, R, Richman, J, et al. Developing instruments for cross-cultural psychiatric research. J Nerv Ment Dis 1988; 176: 257–63.
24 Phan, T, Steel, Z, Silove, D. An ethnographically derived measure of anxiety, depression and somatization: the Phan Vietnamese Psychiatric Scale. Transcult Psychiatry 2004; 41: 200–32.
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Vaage et al. supplementary material
Supplementary Table S1-S3

 PDF (43 KB)
43 KB

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

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)...
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.

×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *