Mental health problems are prevalent in asylum seekers and refugees. Screening instruments may be effective tools for identifying individuals with severe mental health problems, which will allow us to offer them further assessment and treatment.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of screening instruments in asylum seekers.
The Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ) and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-25) were validated against the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) in a sample of 65 asylum seekers in Norway.
In this sample, exposure to traumatic events was reported by 95% of participants, and the prevalence of any mental disorder was high (70%). An apparently high agreement between the two screening instruments and CIDI interviews concealed major differences between two subgroups (MENA and Somalia). Mental health problems were consistently overestimated for the MENA group, and underestimated for the Somali group. The area of origin was significantly associated with symptom reporting.
The results of the screening instruments could not be interpreted in the same manner across the two main groups in this study. Hence, our results did not unequivocally support the use of screening instruments to identify asylum seekers in need of treatment.
Jakobsen, M., Thoresen, S., & Johansen, L. E. E. (2011). The Validity of Screening for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Problems among Asylum Seekers from Different Countries
Journal of Refugee Studies, 24(1), 171-186.