War-wounded Refugees: The Types of Injury and Influence of Disability on Well-Being and Social Integration

Med Confl Surviv. Oct-Dec 1996;12(4):284-302. doi: 10.1080/13623699608409299.


The aim of this study is to describe the war injuries and investigate the influence of physical disability on well-being and social integration in a group of war-wounded refugees after two years in Sweden. A culturally heterogenous sample of 54 war-wounded refugees was investigated during hospitalization shortly after arrival, and after two years. Quantitative data were covered by physical examinations, interviews and questionnaires. In addition, qualitative data were collected within semi-structured interviews on both occasions. The major types of war injuries were: fractures (22%), traumatic amputations (17%), spinal cord injuries (17%), nerve injuries (11%), combinations of fractures and nerve injuries (9%), bilateral eye injuries (9%), brain injuries (7%), other injuries (7%). Regarding the type of injuries and medical complications, the group studied was representative of small unit operations of war with low access to early medical care. The degree of physical disability was not a salient factor for well-being and social integration after two years in Sweden. The losses and desires to be repatriated were apparent from the qualitative findings, as exemplified by three case reports. The findings of this study are in accordance with previous research on refugees and war-injured ex-combatants, but further multidisciplinary research is needed. The results also imply that resettlement countries should pay continuous attention to the broad needs of their war-wounded refugees.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Refugees* / psychology
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Sweden
  • Warfare*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / rehabilitation*