Objective: Few community studies have addressed the longitudinal course of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in traumatized refugees in early resettlement. This longitudinal study investigated changes from the first (T1) to the second interview (T2), 3 years later. The relationship between traumatic exposures and psychosocial factors/psychological symptom load were examined.
Method: Local health professionals performed the interviews, using rating scales and a structured questionnaire. A total of 240 (52%) refugees attended.
Results: Unchanged Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 and increase in Harvard Trauma Questionnaire and post-traumatic stress symptoms-16 between T1 and T2 were found, indicating the severity and chronicity of problems. Mean post-traumatic stress score was 15% above cut-off. Severe life-threatening trauma and present life in exile with unemployment and unresolved family reunion were risk factors.
Conclusion: Early diagnostic interview should be followed by targeted approach. Pinpointing those in need of specialist services is essential. An interdisciplinary approach is necessary in this work.