Trauma and resilience in young refugees: a 9-year follow-up study

Dev Psychopathol. 2010 May;22(2):477-89. doi: 10.1017/S0954579410000180.


The aim of the present study was to assess and understand the long-term trajectory of psychological problems among young Middle Eastern refugees in Denmark. Participants were 131 young refugees from the Middle East (76 girls, 55 boys; mean age = 15.3 years) from 67 families. They were assessed first on arrival in Denmark in 1992-1993 and again 8-9 years later. The high prevalence of psychological problems at arrival was considerably reduced by the time of follow-up, but it was still somewhat higher than what has been found in most community studies using the same assessment tools. Groups of children differed in showing low levels of symptoms at arrival that were stable (spared) or increased (reacting) and high levels at arrival that persisted (traumatized) or decreased (adapted). The number of types of traumatic experiences before arrival distinguished the spared and the traumatized young refugees and the number of types of stressful events after arrival the adapted and the traumatized, also after corrections for age, sex, specific traumatic events, parents' education and health, and the social situation of the young refugees. The study emphasizes the importance of environmental factors for healthy long-term adaptation after traumatic experiences related to war and other organized violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle East
  • Personality Assessment
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Environment*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Time Factors