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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 47 (2005) 11, 743 - 752

Short report

Impact of a long asylum procedure on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in Iraqi asylum seekers in the Netherlands

C.J. Laban, H.B.P.E. Gernaat, I.H. Komproe, G.A. Schreuders, J.T.V.M. de Jong

background   From a clinical point of view there seems to be a link between prolonged asylum-seeking procedures and psychiatric disorders. However, very few research data are available on this topic.
aim   To measure and compare the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among Iraqi asylum seekers who have lived in the Netherlands for varying periods of time.
method In a national community-based study involving random sampling we compared two groups of Iraqi asylum-seekers, one group having resided in the Netherlands for less that six months (n=143) and the other having been resident for more that two years (n=151). Psychiatric disorders (according to the dsm iv) were measured with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 2.1 and evaluated in relation to pre- and post-migration factors.
results The overall prevalence of psychiatric disorders was 42.0% in the first group and 66.2% in the second group. The prevalence rates for anxiety, depression and somatoform disorders were significantly higher in the second group. The level of posttraumatic stress disorder was high in both groups but did not differ. When logistic regression was applied to all relevant risk factors a prolonged asylum procedure was found to be an indepent risk factor for psychopathology.
conclusion The duration of an asylum procedure is an important risk factor for psychiatric problems. Politicians and mental health workers need to pay attention to this finding.



keywords asylum seekers, Iraq, psychiatric disorder, refugee, stressful events