[Psychiatric symptoms in refugees reported to the Psychiatric Center De Vonk].Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 1998 Jul 25; 142(30):1724-8.NT
To determine traumatic experiences and psychological symptoms in refugees reported to the psychiatric centre De Vonk, and the relationship between biographical data, experiences of violence and post-traumatic stress symptoms on the one hand and the referral or admission policy on the other.
Centre '45, refugee unit De Vonk (department for the treatment of traumatized refugees and asylum seekers), Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands. The psychiatric centre De Vonk comprises, apart from an outpatient clinic and a daytime clinic, a department created for the clinical treatment of refugees with symptoms related to traumatization.
The main biographical and background data were collected. The first interview was routinely preceded by the Harvard trauma questionnaire (HTQ) and the Hopkins symptom checklist (HSCL-25), if necessary with the aid of an interpreter. The HTQ measures experiences of violence and post-traumatic stress symptoms; the HSCL-25 comprises an anxiety scale and a depression scale.
Biographical data were obtained from 232 patients and questionnaire data from 169 patients. The population was heterogeneous as regards region of origin, duration of the stay in the Netherlands, education and age. Serious forms of violence were reported, such as abuse, torture and war violence, and many symptoms of anxiety and depression were mentioned. The scores for posttraumatic stress symptoms exceeded the clinical reference values in 82% in the group examined. Of the referred patients, 37% were admitted to the clinic.
In spite of the diversity of language, culture and education among the refugees/asylum seekers referred to De Vonk, it proved adequately possible in practice to use standardized psychological and psychiatric instruments in this group of patients. The symptom level of the patients referred was particularly high.