Mental health assessments in refugees and asylum seekers: evaluation of a tablet-assisted screening software

Confl Health. 2017 Oct 2;11:18. doi: 10.1186/s13031-017-0120-2. eCollection 2017.


Background: Mental health problems resulting from persecution and forced migration are very common among refugees and asylum seekers and evolve into a major public health challenge in hosting societies. Language barriers often prevent timely access to appropriate health care, leading to chronic trajectories and abortive social integration. Tools for multilingual screening and assessment could be of great benefit for this particularly vulnerable population as well as for policy makers. This study aimed at testing the reliability, feasibility and usability of the Multi-Adaptive Psychological Screening Software (MAPSS), a newly developed Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interview Software (ACASI) for touchscreen devices, for screening purposes in a clinical setting.

Methods: In a randomized cross-over design including both MAPSS and paper-pencil clinician-administered interviews, 30 treatment-seeking refugees completed clinical measures and a feasibility questionnaire to rate the user interface of MAPSS. Five professionals performed given tasks in MAPSS and completed usability questionnaires for the administration interface.

Results: Results showed no differences between the two assessment modalities with regard to symptom scores. The findings suggest good feasibility and usability of MAPSS in traumatized refugees. The administration via MAPSS was significantly shorter than the paper-pencil interview.

Conclusion: MAPSS may be a cost-effective, flexible and valid alternative to interpreter-based psychometric screening and assessment.

Keywords: ACASI; Clinical setting; Feasibility; Interview; Refugees; Screening; Usability.