Improving Mental Health in Refugee Populations: A Review of Intervention Studies Conducted in the United States

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Abstract

Mental health is one of the most pervasive health concerns in the refugee population due to the combined effects of traumatic experiences prior to migration and post-migration stressors related to resettlement. The objectives of this systematic search were to synthesize evidence on the effectiveness and identify gaps of mental health interventions on mental health outcomes for refugees resettled in the United States. This review search identified a combination of quasi-experimental (7 studies) and qualitative research studies (5 studies). Twelve papers, published between 2003-2017, evaluating twelve different interventions, were selected for review. Studies were conducted in a variety of refugee populations: Africans (8), Southeast Asians (2), Bhutanese (1), and multicultural (1). Interventions included groups/workshops (10) and individual counseling (2). The results from the mental health interventions showed increases in health confidence, health seeking behaviors, consistency with treatment course, English proficiency, quality of life, and level of enculturation. Results also showed decreases in depression and psychological distress. Also identified from this review were different methods for interventions including linguistic and ethnically-matched facilitators versus non-matched facilitators, as well as group interventions versus non-group interventions. These differences were identified in the review and discovered to be areas for further research as these items were not often addressed in the literature.

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Relevant Evidence Summaries

The evidence was reviewed and included in the following summaries: 

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About this study

AGE: Multiple Age Groups

DIRECTION OF EVIDENCE: Positive impact

FULL TEXT AVAILABILITY: Free

GENDER: All

HOST COUNTRY: United States

HOST COUNTRY INCOME: High

INTERVENTION DURATION: Various

INTERVENTION: Psycho-education

OUTCOME AREA: General Distress Reduction

POPULATION: Refugees

REGION OF ORIGIN OF PARTICIPANT(S): Multiple Regions

STRENGTH OF EVIDENCE: Strong

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

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