Medical complaints among Iraqi American refugees with mental disorders.J Immigr Health. 2005 Jul; 7(3):145-52.JI
The Gulf War in 1991 resulted in an influx of refugees from Iraq to the United States and to other regions of the world. The purpose of this study was to describe the self-reported medical complaints of Iraqi American refugees who were seeking mental health services in southeastern Michigan. We anticipated that the frequency and pattern of medical symptoms would differ from that reported in the literature on United States Gulf War veterans or other Arab Americans who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s. Potential reasons for such differences include indirect effects, such as neglect of general health prior to and during the war, or direct effects, such as the impact of environmental changes from the war itself. As part of a larger study on the health of refugees from Iraq, self-reported medical conditions and symptoms were analyzed in a sample of 116 adult Iraqi immigrants (46 male, 70 female) who were seeking or already receiving outpatient mental health services (n = 87) or treatment in a partial hospitalization program (n = 29). Measures were translated into Arabic and administered in an interview format by one of two bilingual mental health workers. The results were consistent with other studies on refugees in which the number of medical complaints reported was relatively high. Discussion centers on the importance of addressing the specific medical needs of refugees in general, and of the Iraqi refugees in particular, and on how they may be better served within our primary health care systems.