Psychopathology in African Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in Austria

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090, Vienna, Austria.
Child Psychiatry and Human Development (Impact Factor: 1.93). 02/2011; 42(3):307-19. DOI: 10.1007/s10578-011-0219-4
Source: PubMed


We assessed the prevalence of a range of psychopathology among African unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs) in Austria. Additionally, the predictive value of war exposure on PTSD symptoms was examined. Forty-one URMs were assessed with the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview for children and adolescents, the Youth Self-Report, the UCLA PTSD Reaction Index and Facts About You. As expected, 56% of youth had at least one diagnosis by structured clinical interview. The most common diagnoses were adjustment disorder, PTSD and dysthymia. War affliction marginally predicted (p = 0.065) PTSD controlling for age and gender. URMs had high levels of psychopathology compared to norms. Their PTSD rates were somewhat lower than found in previous studies. We discuss methodological and substantive reasons for this finding. Future studies need to examine URMs across the entire diagnostic spectrum and employ multi-method designs to yield valid results. The psychopathology in URMs has clinical and forensic implications.

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    • "This assessment was designed to follow the DSM-IV-TR criteria of experiencing a traumatic event (Criterion A) and reporting symptoms related to reexperiencing/intrusive thoughts (Criterion B), avoidance (Criterion C), and hyperarousal (Criterion D). It was reported to have excellent internal consistency and strong convergent validity (Balaban et al., 2005; Steinberg et al., 2004) and had been used with youth from sub-Saharan Africa (Ellis, Lhewa, Charney, & Cabral, 2006; Ellis et al., 2010; Ellis, MacDonald, Lincoln, & Cabral, 2008; Huemer et al., 2011). Ellis and colleagues (2006) reported that the UCLA PTSD Reaction Index was a reliable and valid screening tool for PTSD symptoms among adolescent refugees from Somalia (a neighboring country of Kenya). "
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    ABSTRACT: Research on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among youth has focused on specific subgroups from developed countries. Most of the world's youth and war-like violence, however, is concentrated in developing countries, yet there is limited mental health data within affected countries. This study focused on a random community-based sample of 552 impoverished youth ages 6-18 within an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, which experienced war-like violence for a month following the contested presidential election of 2007. Six months after the violence ended, 99 (18%) had PTSD according to the UCLA PTSD Reaction Index (Steinberg, Brymer, Decker, & Pynoos, 2004), and an additional 18 (3%) were found to have partial PTSD due to high overall scores. Kenyan psychologists conducted diagnostic interviews and found the positive predictive value of the assessment tool to be 72% in this sample; the confirmed prevalence was 12%. Similar to other studies worldwide, Criterion C (avoidance) was the limiting factor for diagnosing PTSD according to the DSM-IV-TR, and parent-child agreement was at best fair. The number of traumatic experiences was strongly associated with PTSD outcomes. Differences due to age or sex were not found. The findings indicate the need for universal mental health services for trauma-exposed youth and their families in the impoverished informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Journal of Traumatic Stress
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    ABSTRACT: Examining personality and psychopathological symptoms among unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs), we measured intra-individual dimensions (repression and correlates thereof) usually associated with resilience. Forty-one URMs completed the Weinberger Adjustment Inventory (WAI), assessing personality, and the Youth Self-Report (YSR), describing current symptoms. URMs endorsed high levels of Repressive Defensiveness, Denial of Distress, and Restraint; unexpectedly, URMs reported high Distress and reduced Happiness (WAI, p's < 0.05). Although YSR symptoms were below clinical cut points, there were notable correlations between Distress and Attention Problems, Self-destructive, and Aggressive Behavior (all on the YSR), correcting for multiple comparisons (p's < 0.004). URMs exposed to non-normative stressors reported non-symptomatic outcomes, and high levels of personality dimensions correlating with resilience. However, URMs also endorsed high Distress and low Happiness, calling their resilience into question. Positive correlations between WAI Distress and YSR symptom subscales suggest that URMs harbor vulnerabilities of clinical and forensic significance.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · Child Psychiatry and Human Development
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    ABSTRACT: One of the goals of epidemiological research is to describe the frequency and patterns in the distribution of diseases among certain groups of a statistical population. According to the literature available, mental disorders in children and adolescents are a common phenomenon worldwide. This article provides a review of the most important and recent international studies on the magnitude, on patterns of distribution, on the course and on gender differences of psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. Additional data from scientific textbooks are added to the original articles.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Zeitschrift für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie
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