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Mental Disorders in Refugees: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

25 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2019

See all articles by Jens-R Henkelmann

Jens-R Henkelmann

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Sanne de Best

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Carla Deckers

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Katarina Jensen

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Mona Shahab

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Bernet Elzinga

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Marc Molendijk

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

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Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

Background: The number of refugees is highest since the second world war and on the rise. Many refugees suffer from mental disorders, but exact and up-to-date prevalence estimates and sources of heterogeneity herein (e.g., host continent, length of residency) are not available.

Methods: We undertook a systematic review with meta-analyses to summarize the literature on the prevalence of mood, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in general refugee populations. We also investigated moderators of prevalence rates.

Findings: Systematic searches (final search date August the 3th 2019) yielded 66 eligible publications that reported 150 prevalence estimates (total N = 14,882). Prevalences for diagnosed and self-reported current anxiety were 13 and 42% (95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 8-52%) (P difference < .05), 30% and 40% (95% CI = 23-48%) for diagnosed and self-reported depression, and 29% and 37% (95% CI = 22-45%) for diagnosed and self-reported PTSD. These estimates are substantially higher relative to those reported in non-refugee populations over the globe and to that of populations living in conflict/war settings, both for adult and child/adolescent refugees. Estimates were similar over different home and resettlement areas and independent of length of residence.

Interpretation: Our data indicate a huge and persisting disease burden in refugees around the globe due to poor mental health. Knowing this is relevant for the development of public health policies of host countries. Scalable interventions, tailored for refugees, should become more readily available.

Funding Statement: This project was funded through continued support by Leiden University.

Declaration of Interests: The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethics Approval Statement: The study protocol was pre-registered at PROSPERO (ID CRD42018100539).

Keywords: Refugees, mental health, depression, anxiety, PTSD

Suggested Citation

Henkelmann, Jens-R and de Best, Sanne and Deckers, Carla and Jensen, Katarina and Shahab, Mona and Elzinga, Bernet and Molendijk, Marc, Mental Disorders in Refugees: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (10/17/2019 17:33:46). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3471994 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3471994

Jens-R Henkelmann

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Leiden
Netherlands

Sanne De Best

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Leiden
Netherlands

Carla Deckers

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Leiden
Netherlands

Katarina Jensen

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Leiden
Netherlands

Mona Shahab

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Leiden
Netherlands

Bernet Elzinga

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department

Leiden
Netherlands

Marc Molendijk (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Clinical Psychology Department ( email )

Leiden
Netherlands

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