Depression among Vietnamese refugees in a primary care clinic

Am J Med. 1985 Jan;78(1):41-4. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(85)90459-0.


Refugees are at high risk for mental disorders and manifest cultural influences in their health behavior. The Vietnamese Depression Scale was administered to Vietnamese patients at a community clinic to assess the underlying prevalence of depression. The rate of accurate diagnosis and the manifestations of depression were also examined. A high prevalence of depression (52 percent) and a high level of underdiagnosis (56 percent) by primary care physicians were found. Ninety-five percent of these patients presented with physical symptoms. Compared with patients who had negative depression scores, those who had positive depression scores were more likely to be older and sought care at the clinic more frequently. These findings underscore the importance of depression as an urgent health problem among Vietnamese refugees in primary care. Accuracy in diagnosis can be improved by using the Vietnamese Depression Scale and constitutes the first step toward effective treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Refugees*
  • Vietnam / ethnology
  • Washington