[Chronic pain in traumatized refugees].
ABSTRACT The purpose of this article is to describe the prevalence of chronic pain in traumatized refugees. Further, we sought to identify the possible associations between pain and psychosocial factors, reported traumatic events, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Seventy-two patients (40%) were followed up 3 to 8 years after contact with a psychiatric outpatient clinic at the Psychosocial Centre for Refugees in the University of Oslo. Of the men, 83 % had been imprisoned before flight, of the women, 44%. In this study data was collected at onset of treatment and at follow up by a semi-structured interview. We included data on pain, previously experienced traumatic events, socio-demographic information, social support and psychiatric symptoms using the Hopkins symptom check list-25, the symptom scale of Harvard trauma questionnaire, and a screening for a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder according to the DSM-IV. Additionally, general assessment of functioning was estimated. Chronic pain was defined as suffering continuously from serious pain over the last 6 months.
Forty-seven (65%) patients reported they had problems with chronic pain; out of these, 34 (72%) reported they experienced severe pain. No significant association was found between type or number of traumatic event and chronic pain. Significant association was found between severe chronic pain, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression scores, general assessment of functioning, and medium/low social support. A significant association was found between severe chronic pain and the frequency of consultations with a general practitioner. Inquiry about and treatment for chronic severe pain should be included in the rehabilitation of traumatized refugees.
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ABSTRACT: Many traumatised refugees suffer from both persistent pain and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To date, no specific guidelines exist for treatment of this group of patients. This paper presents data on a pilot treatment study conducted with 15 traumatised refugees with persistent pain and PTSD. Participants received 10 sessions of pain-focused treatment with biofeedback (BF) followed by 10 sessions of Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET). Structured interviews and standardised questionnaires were used to assess symptoms of pain intensity, pain disability, PTSD and quality of life directly before and after treatment and at 3 months follow-up. Following the combined intervention, participants showed a significant reduction in both pain and PTSD symptoms, as well as improved quality of life. Additionally, biofeedback increased motivation for subsequent trauma-focused therapy, which in turn was related to larger PTSD treatment gains. This pilot study provides initial evidence that combining BF and NET is safe, acceptable, and feasible in patients with co-morbid persistent pain and PTSD.European Journal of Psychotraumatology 01/2012; 3.
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ABSTRACT: Refugees with trauma histories are a difficult medical population to treat. Acupuncture care has gained acceptance in many mainstream hospitals in the United States, but research on acupuncture and refugee populations is limited. Herein, we report our experiences with 50 refugees (total acupuncture treatments = 425) at a major tertiary teaching hospital. Patients often reported extreme trauma including physical torture, rape and witnessing the same in family members. Patients represented 13 different countries, with about half the patients being Somali. The primary complaint of all patients was pain (100%). Using the Wong-Baker Faces Pain scale, 56% patients reported pain decreases. Patient acceptance of acupuncture was high. We provide three case histories as illustrative examples. Further research is warranted.Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 10/2011; 14(3):433-40. · 1.16 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The aim of this project was to use the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to develop an interdisciplinary instrument consisting of a Core Set, a number of codes selected from ICF, to describe the overall health condition of traumatised refugees. We intended to test 1) whether this tool could prove suitable for an overall description of the functional abilities of traumatised refugees before, during and after the intervention, and 2) whether the Core Set could be used to trace a significant change in the functional abilities of the traumatised refugees by comparing measurements before and after the intervention. In 2007, eight rehabilitation centres for traumatised refugees in Denmark agreed on a joint project to develop a tool for interdisciplinary documentation and monitoring, including physical, mental and social aspects of the person's health condition. ICF, developed and approved by WHO in 2001, was found suitable because it offers a common and standardised language and a corresponding frame of reference to describe health and associated conditions in terms of functioning rather than symptoms and diagnosis. Traumatised refugees are in most cases severely affected mentally by the traumas they have been subjected to, physically by injuries suffered during torture and war, psycho-somatically with pain, and socially by cultural uprooting, as well as by social difficulties in the exile community. The rehabilitation perspective thus seems to be more meaningful than the traditional treatment perspective because it takes into account the very complex situation of this group. The aim of the project was to find out whether any functional changes could be monitored using the instrument. The aim was neither to study nor to describe the effect of rehabilitation approaches, such as conditions related to traumatised refugees' networks or environments that might affect the refugees' living conditions. It was also not the intention to discuss the cause of the potential changes of the functional abilities. The project selected a Comprehensive Core Set of 106 codes among 1,464 possible codes (1) used by an interdisciplinary group of international and national experts in rehabilitation of traumatised refugees. The Comprehensive Core Set was furthermore reduced to a Brief Core Set of 32 codes by the interdisciplinary team (key persons) at the centres included in the project. From each centre six clients were randomly selected from those who fulfilled the inclusion criteria. All were scored within a four week period after the start, before any intervention was initiated, and up to a month after the first scoring. The results from this project led us to the conclusion that it is possible to develop an instrument based on the ICF classification. The instrument is useful for a general description of the total health condition (physical and mental functional ability as well as the environmental impact) of traumatized refugees. The tool helps describe changes in the functional abilities used in connection with the preparation of the plan of action. It can also be used to describe the refugees included in the study and their general condition. The ICF Core Set for traumatised refugees has not yet been validated, but the results of the project provide a basis for further development.Torture: quarterly journal on rehabilitation of torture victims and prevention of torture 01/2010; 20(2):57-75.