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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 (T1) and 1985 (T2), completed a self-report questionnaire prior to a
semi-structured interview. Mental health was measured using the Symptom
The SCL–90–R mean Global Severity Index (GSI) decreased significantly
from T1 to T3 (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.