The mental health of internally displaced persons: an epidemiological study of adults in two settlements in Central Sudan

Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2013 Dec;59(8):782-8. doi: 10.1177/0020764012456810. Epub 2012 Sep 13.


Aims: There is a scarcity of data on mental health problems among Sudanese internally displaced persons (IDPs). This study aims to assess the prevalence of mental disorders of IDPs in Sudan, and to determine and compare the association between mental disorders and socio-demographic variables between the rural and urban long-term IDP populations.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was implemented in two IDP areas in Central Sudan. Data were collected during face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires to assess socio-demographic factors and the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) to determine psychiatric diagnoses. A total of 1,876 adults were enrolled from both study areas.

Results: The overall prevalence of having any mental health disorder in the IDP population was 52.9%. The most common disorders were major depressive disorder (24.3%), generalized anxiety disorder (23.6%), social phobia (14.2%) and post-traumatic stress disorder (12.3%). Years of displacement and education were associated with different mental disorders between the two areas, and there were no gender differences in prevalence of mental disorders in either area.

Conclusion: This study shows high prevalence rates of mental disorders in both urban and rural IDP populations in Sudan, indicating a need to explore the circumstances for these high rates and to develop appropriate responses.

Keywords: Internally displaced persons; Sudan; mental disorders; rural; urban.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Phobic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Sudan / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult