The association between long-distance migration and PTSD prevalence in Syrian refugees

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Andreas Halgreen Eiset
  • Michaelangelo P Aoun, Lebanese University and Lebanese International University
  • ,
  • Monica Stougaard
  • ,
  • Annemarie Graa Gottlieb
  • ,
  • Ramzi S Haddad, Lebanese University and Lebanese International University
  • ,
  • Morten Frydenberg
  • Wadih J Naja, Lebanese University and Lebanese International University

BACKGROUND: Refugees are forced migrants but there is a large variation in the distance that refugees cover and there is a paucity in the evidence of how this may affect refugees' health and health care needs.

OBJECTIVE: We investigated the association between long-distance migration and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious psychiatric disorder associated with deteriorating mental and somatic health.

METHODS: Included from 2016-2019 were adult Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Denmark that arrived up to 12 months prior to inclusion. PTSD was assessed using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire and the estimate of association was obtained by multiply imputing missing data and adjusting for confounding by propensity score-weighting with covariates age, sex, socioeconomic status, trauma experience and general mental well-being, reporting the bootstrap 95-percentile confidence interval (95% CI). Additionally, a number of sensitivity analyses were performed.

RESULTS: Included were 599 participants in Lebanon (mean age 35 years old, 73% being female) and 133 participants in Denmark (mean age 30 years old, 47% being female). After multiply imputing missing data and propensity score-weighted adjustment for confounding, migration to Denmark instead of Lebanon was associated with an increase in PTSD prevalence of 9 percentage point (95% CI [-1; 19] percentage point).

CONCLUSIONS: Long-distance migration may be associated with an increase in PTSD prevalence in refugees. The migration could be an important factor to consider when assessing refugees' and asylum seekers' health. Practitioners should consider "long-distance migration" in refugee health screenings and in particular when assessing the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. Future research should be designed to ultimately lead to studies of relevant interventions to lower the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder in refugees.

Original languageEnglish
Article number363
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Volume22
Issue1
Number of pages11
ISSN1471-244X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Adult, Female, Humans, Male, Mental Health, Prevalence, Refugees/psychology, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/epidemiology, Syria, Emigration and immigration, Refugees, Human migration, PTSD, Propensity score, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Cross-sectional studies

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

Activities

Projects

ID: 270337679