Course and predictors of mental health of unaccompanied refugee minors in the Netherlands: one year follow-up

Soc Sci Med. 2007 Mar;64(6):1204-15. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.11.010. Epub 2006 Dec 26.


This epidemiological investigation addresses the prevalence, course, and predictors of the psychological distress and behavioral problems of unaccompanied refugee minors living in the Netherlands. The legal guardians, teachers and minors themselves all reported on the mental health of the refugee minors (n=582) at baseline and follow-up approximately 12 months later. The self-reported psychological distress of refugee minors was found to be severe (50%) and of a chronic nature (stable for one year) which was confirmed by reports from the guardians (33%) and teachers (36%). The number of self-reported experienced adverse life events were strongly related to the severity of psychological distress. Baseline psychopathology was the largest predictor of psychological distress at follow-up reported by all informants accounting for 22-51% of the variance. The present study, which used a population-based sample, further enlarges the knowledge of mental health among refugee adolescents. The investigation is unique because of the large sample size, the longitudinal nature of the study, the use of multiple informants, and the culturally diverse sample.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / ethnology
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / ethnology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Foster Home Care / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Minors / psychology*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Probability
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Disclosure
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires