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      Long-term mental health of war-refugees: a systematic literature review

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          Abstract

          Background

          There are several million war-refugees worldwide, majority of whom stay in the recipient countries for years. However, little is known about their long-term mental health. This review aimed to assess prevalence of mental disorders and to identify their correlates among long-settled war-refugees.

          Methods

          We conducted a systematic review of studies that assessed current prevalence and/or factors associated with depression and anxiety disorders in adult war-refugees 5 years or longer after displacement. We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and PILOTS from their inception to October 2014, searched reference lists, and contacted experts. Because of a high heterogeneity between studies, overall estimates of mental disorders were not discussed. Instead, prevalence rates were reviewed narratively and possible sources of heterogeneity between studies were investigated both by subgroup analysis and narratively. A descriptive analysis examined pre-migration and post-migration factors associated with mental disorders in this population.

          Results

          The review identified 29 studies on long-term mental health with a total of 16,010 war-affected refugees. There was significant between-study heterogeneity in prevalence rates of depression (range 2.3–80 %), PTSD (4.4–86 %), and unspecified anxiety disorder (20.3–88 %), although prevalence estimates were typically in the range of 20 % and above. Both clinical and methodological factors contributed substantially to the observed heterogeneity. Studies of higher methodological quality generally reported lower prevalence rates. Prevalence rates were also related to both which country the refugees came from and in which country they resettled. Refugees from former Yugoslavia and Cambodia tended to report the highest rates of mental disorders, as well as refugees residing in the USA. Descriptive synthesis suggested that greater exposure to pre-migration traumatic experiences and post-migration stress were the most consistent factors associated with all three disorders, whilst a poor post-migration socio-economic status was particularly associated with depression.

          Conclusions

          There is a need for more methodologically consistent and rigorous research on the mental health of long-settled war refugees. Existing evidence suggests that mental disorders tend to be highly prevalent in war refugees many years after resettlement. This increased risk may not only be a consequence of exposure to wartime trauma but may also be influenced by post-migration socio-economic factors.

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          Most cited references89

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          A review of correlates of physical activity of children and adolescents.

          Understanding the factors that influence physical activity can aid the design of more effective interventions. Previous reviews of correlates of youth physical activity have produced conflicting results. A comprehensive review of correlates of physical activity was conducted, and semiquantitative results were summarized separately for children (ages 3-12) and adolescents (ages 13-18). The 108 studies evaluated 40 variables for children and 48 variables for adolescents. About 60% of all reported associations with physical activity were statistically significant. Variables that were consistently associated with children's physical activity were sex (male), parental overweight status, physical activity preferences, intention to be active, perceived barriers (inverse), previous physical activity, healthy diet, program/facility access, and time spent outdoors. Variables that were consistently associated with adolescents' physical activity were sex (male), ethnicity (white), age (inverse), perceived activity competence, intentions, depression (inverse), previous physical activity, community sports, sensation seeking, sedentary after school and on weekends (inverse), parent support, support from others, sibling physical activity, direct help from parents, and opportunities to exercise. These consistently related variables should be confirmed in prospective studies, and interventions to improve the modifiable variables should be developed and evaluated.
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            Prevalence of mental disorders in Europe: results from the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD) project.

            To describe the 12-month and lifetime prevalence rates of mood, anxiety and alcohol disorders in six European countries. A representative random sample of non-institutionalized inhabitants from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain aged 18 or older (n = 21425) were interviewed between January 2001 and August 2003. DSM-IV disorders were assessed by lay interviewers using a revised version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI). Fourteen per cent reported a lifetime history of any mood disorder, 13.6% any anxiety disorder and 5.2% a lifetime history of any alcohol disorder. More than 6% reported any anxiety disorder, 4.2% any mood disorder, and 1.0% any alcohol disorder in the last year. Major depression and specific phobia were the most common single mental disorders. Women were twice as likely to suffer 12-month mood and anxiety disorders as men, while men were more likely to suffer alcohol abuse disorders. ESEMeD is the first study to highlight the magnitude of mental disorders in the six European countries studied. Mental disorders were frequent, more common in female, unemployed, disabled persons, or persons who were never married or previously married. Younger persons were also more likely to have mental disorders, indicating an early age of onset for mood, anxiety and alcohol disorders.
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              Depression and anxiety in labor migrants and refugees--a systematic review and meta-analysis.

              Prevalence rates of depression and anxiety among migrants (i.e. refugees, labor migrants) vary among studies and it's been found that prevalence rates of depression and anxiety may be linked to financial strain in the country of immigration. Our aim is to review studies on prevalence rates of depression and/or anxiety (acknowledging that Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is within that class of disorders), and to evaluate associations between the Gross National Product (GNP) of the immigration country as a moderating factor for depression, anxiety and PTSD among migrants. We carried out a systematic literature review in the databases MEDLINE and EMBASE for population based studies published from 1990 to 2007 reporting prevalence rates of depression and/or anxiety and or PTSD according to DSM- or ICD- criteria in adults, and a calculation of combined estimates for proportions using the DerSimonian-Laird estimation. A total of 348 records were retrieved with 37 publications on 35 populations meeting our inclusion criteria. 35 studies were included in the final evaluation. Our meta-analysis shows that the combined prevalence rates for depression were 20 percent among labor migrants vs. 44 percent among refugees; for anxiety the combined estimates were 21 percent among labor migrants vs. 40 percent among (n=24,051) refugees. Higher GNP in the country of immigration was related to lower symptom prevalence of depression and/or anxiety in labor migrants but not in refugees. We conclude that depression and/or anxiety in labor migrants and refugees require separate consideration, and that better economic conditions in the host country reflected by a higher GNP appear to be related to better mental health in labor migrants but not in refugees.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                m.bogic@qmul.ac.uk
                dr.anthony.njoku@horizonnb.ca
                s.priebe@qmul.ac.uk
                Journal
                BMC Int Health Hum Rights
                BMC Int Health Hum Rights
                BMC International Health and Human Rights
                BioMed Central (London )
                1472-698X
                28 October 2015
                28 October 2015
                2015
                : 15
                : 29
                Affiliations
                [ ]Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development, Queen Mary University of London, E13 8SP London, UK
                [ ]Fredericton OSI Clinic, NB, Canada
                Article
                64
                10.1186/s12914-015-0064-9
                4624599
                26510473
                9f4c66a0-6d09-4a1a-8aba-cd4c1c002155
                © Bogic et al. 2015

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                History
                : 22 December 2014
                : 14 September 2015
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2015

                Health & Social care
                refugees,war trauma,ptsd,depression,anxiety,risk factors
                Health & Social care
                refugees, war trauma, ptsd, depression, anxiety, risk factors

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