The Sierra Leonean refugee experience: traumatic events and psychiatric sequelae

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2000 Aug;188(8):490-5. doi: 10.1097/00005053-200008000-00003.


Although a number of studies address the mental health status of refugees from a variety of regions in the world, there are no studies of the mental health status of West African refugees. It was the purpose of this study to determine the prevalence of various traumatic events to which a sample of Sierra Leonean refugees have been exposed as well as psychiatric sequelae associated with such exposure. A procedure of probability sampling was used to identify and assess a sample of 55 Sierra Leonean refugees residing in a UNHCR-sponsored camp in The Gambia, West Africa. The Harvard Trauma Questionnaire and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 served as survey instruments. The findings clearly indicate the presence of disturbingly high prevalence rates for various traumatic experiences and psychiatric sequelae. It appears that a significant mental health problem exists that begs to be addressed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Culture
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Gambia / epidemiology
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Sierra Leone / ethnology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology