Prevalence of possible depression and post-traumatic stress disorder among community dwelling adult refugees and refugee applicants in South Korea

Jee Hoon Sohn, Jin Lim, Jong Seok Lee, Karan Kim, Sooyeon Lim, Nahyun Byeon, Dong Woo Kim, Kyae Hyoung Kim, Min Sun Kim, Sung Joon Cho, Hwo Yeon Seo, Jee Eun Park, Yong Jin Kwon, Jun Soo Kwon, Curie Ahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Because there has been a recent increase in refugee applications in Korea, the mental health of these refugees merits greater study. Methods: We surveyed 129 refugees (including those in process of refugee application) and 121 migrant workers living in urban communities, using: the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 for depressive symptoms, the Impact Event Scale-Revised for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and the health questionnaires used in 2016 Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES). The majority of refugee subjects were from sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East. We compared the prevalence of possible depression and possible PTSD between refugees and migrant workers and refugees and age-gender matched samples from the KNHANES 2016. Results: Frequency of suicidal planning during the last year was higher in the refugee group than Korean nationals, but frequency of suicidal attempt was not. High risk drinking was found in 0.8% of refugees, 6.6% of migrant workers and 27.2% of Korean nationals. Possible depression was present in 42.9% of refugee subjects, 33.3% of migrant workers, and 4.2% of Korean controls. Possible PTSD was present in 38.9% of refugees compared to 12.5% of migrant workers. Only major risk factor for depression among refugees was a traumatic event before entering Korea. Conclusion: Possible depression and PTSD are significantly more prevalent in refugees, compared to both migrant workers and Korean nationals. Prevalence rates are commensurate with refugee studies worldwide. Appropriate early screening and intervention schemes need to be developed for refugees entering Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere97
JournalJournal of Korean Medical Science
Volume34
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Migrants
  • PTSD
  • Refugee

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