261164 Predicting positive health outcomes in trauma-exposed refugees

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Bengt Arnetz, MD, PhD, MPH, MscEp , Dept. Family Med. & Public Health Sci., Div. Occup. & Env. Health / Dept. of Public Health & Caring Sci., Uppsala Univ.Sweden, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Carissa Broadbridge, MA , Department of Psychology and Wayne State University School of Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Judith Arnetz, PhD, MPH , Department of Family Medicine & Public Health Sciences, Division of Occupational & Environmental Health; Dept. of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala Sweden, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Hikmet J. Jamil, MD, PhD, FFOMI , School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine & Public Health Sciences, Division of Occupational & Environmental Health, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Background: It is well documented that refugees suffer from poor somatic and mental health when compared to both immigrants and natives of the host country. Research has predominantly focused on trauma as a predictor of poor mental and somatic health in refugee populations, and many studies have exclusively used self-report measures. Little research has attempted to examine the predictors of positive health outcomes. Methods: This study is the first to focus on predicting positive health in a random sample of recently arrived refugees (n = 298) and immigrant controls (n = 314) using both self-report and diagnostic measures of mental and somatic health outcomes. Structural equations were used to model positive health outcomes, including the absence of diagnosed chronic diseases, depression and PTSD, as well as low levels of symptoms of depression and PTSD. Results: Analyses revealed that lower levels of pre-migration trauma were predictive of better health on all measures. Furthermore, even though refugees experienced significantly more trauma they had better SCID verified mental health than did immigrants. Additionally, fewer family-related hassles were linked to better mental and somatic health, and those with more stimulating social environments were shown to have better mental health. Conclusion: These results suggest that enriching the social environment and promoting family harmony may help to ease the transition into the host country, thereby increasing positive health outcomes during this time of stress. Such findings should be taken into account by healthcare and public policy professionals who are working with immigrant and refugee populations.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify factors that strengthen mental and somatic health among trauma-exposed refugees Discuss how knowledge of resilience factors could be employed in preventive refugee health services

Keywords: Refugees, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI of the project. I was responsibly for the study design, implementation and analysis in collaboration with my research team. I have been in charge of numerous stress and healthh researhc projects.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.