Primary prevention of acculturative stress among refugees. Application of psychological theory and practice

Am Psychol. 1991 Jun;46(6):632-41. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.46.6.632.


Primary prevention in refugee mental health requires information from clinical, health, and cross-cultural psychology. Primary prevention's roots are in public health, which is distinguished by a communitywide perspective for addressing mental health concerns. This article summarizes research suggesting that refugees are an at-risk population, making them especially suitable for public health interventions. Research on stress and acculturation is highlighted, given its importance to prevention in refugee mental health. The opportunities for primary prevention programs and policies at 3 levels (i.e., local community, national, and international) are illustrated with case examples from both the United States and Canada. Prevention at the international level is highlighted by a World Health Organization Mental Health Mission to camps on the Thai-Cambodian border.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Cambodia / ethnology
  • Canada
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Thailand / ethnology
  • United States