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October 2021

Impact of trauma and torture on asylum-seekers

Author(s): Bollini, P., Pampallona, S., DeHaan, D. B., Gariazzo, F.

Journal/Book: Eur J Public Health. 1999; 9: Great Clarendon St, Oxford Ox2 6DP, England. Oxford Univ Press. 93-96.

Abstract: Background: Because most asylum seekers come from regions in which war and human rights violations are common, a systematic investigation of exposure to traumatic events and their psychological impact was conducted. Methods: Over an eight month period, 573 asylum-seekers were interviewed shortly after arrival in Geneva, Switzerland, using a questionnaire to celled information on physical and psychological symptoms and previous exposure to traumatic events. Results: Sixty two per cent reported exposure to one or more traumatic events, and 18% reported having been tortured. Overall, 37% reported at least one severe symptom during the previous week, most often of a psychological nature, such as sadness most of the time, insomnia, and anxiety. Persons who reported torture were more symptomatic than those who did not, and symptoms were consistent with diagnoses of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. A follow-up Visit was proposed to 28% of the entire sample, and to two thirds of those who reported torture. Conclusion: These findings suggest that a simple checklist such as the one used in this study may assist health professionals to identify asylum seekers in need of further assessment and care to reduce long-term post-traumatic psycho-social disability and strengthen coping capability.

Note: Article Loutan L, Univ Geneva, Hop Cantonal, Travel & Migrat Med Unit, Dept Community Med, CH-1211 Geneva 14, SWITZERLAND

Keyword(s): asylum seekers; trauma; torture; post-traumatic disorders; medical screening; POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER; REFUGEES; INSTRUMENT; SURVIVORS

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