Prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses in asylum seekers with follow-up

Richter, Kneginja and Peter, Lukas and Hartmut, Lehfeld and Brar-Reisinger, Sabrina and Zäske, Harald and Niklewski, Günter (2018) Prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses in asylum seekers with follow-up. BMC. (In Press)

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Background: In the study, the frequency and nature of asylum seekers’ psychiatric diagnoses in a German
admission center were examined. Additional aims were to identify changes in those diagnoses over time and to
investigate health care utilization of mentally ill asylum seekers in the community.
Methods: The sample for the study “Psychiatric Examination of Asylum Seekers” in Bavaria consisted of a total of
283 asylum seekers and included 2 subsamples: help-seeking individuals and a randomly selected group. 34 of all
asylum seekers were part of an extensive psychiatric follow-up examination (t2) about six months after the first
examination (t1). Here, we used psychometric tools and a psychiatric interview by a medical doctor and a
psychologist with the help of translators.
Results: 79% of help-seekers and 45% of the random group received at least one psychiatric diagnosis at t1. The
most frequent diagnoses were trauma- and stress-related disorders, affective disorders, and insomnia. Men and
Muslims were underrepresented in the help-seeking group. In the follow-up subsample, the rate of psychiatric
diagnoses went down from 74% at t1 to 38% at t2. In contrast, the number of PTSD cases increased from 4 at t1 to
7 at t2. The severity of PTSD symptoms such as hyperarousal and avoidance also increased. Of the 13 persons in
the follow-up-sample diagnosed with depression at t1, only 2 still fit the criteria of the disease at t2. Only 5 subjects
had received some sort of psychotherapy or counseling.
Conclusion: The prevalence of mental illness in asylum seekers reported here corresponds to the usual range in
the literature. It is significantly higher than in European civil society, especially regarding PTSD. At t2, the diagnoses
of PTDS had increased within several months without evident additional traumatic events. Asylum seekers’
psychiatric diagnoses soon after arrival should be recorded carefully and examination should be repeated after six
months. The psychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatment of asylum seekers is still insufficient. Psychoeducative
steps should be taken to relieve the stigma on mental illness, especially among males and Muslims.
Keywords: Asylum seekers, Refugees, Mental health, PTSD, Depression, Insomnia

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Medical and Health Sciences > Clinical medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Medical Science
Depositing User: Kneginja Rihter Sokolovska
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2018 08:59
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2018 08:59

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