Depression and Anxiety among Cambodian Refugee Women in France and the United States


D'Avanzo, Carolyn E., and Sasha A. Barab. 1998. Depression and Anxiety among Cambodian Refugee Women in France and the United States. Issues in Mental Health Nursing 19 (6): 541-556.

Authors: Carolyn E. D'Avanzo, Sasha A. Barab


This study reports on Cambodian refugee data related to signs symptomatic of depression and anxiety, the tendency to worry or ruminate over past events (a culture-bound syndrome called ''Khoucherang''), and differences that might be influenced by social system and cultural practice. A sample consisting of 155 women of Cambodian national origin were interviewed in their homes in the USA and France. Answers to the research questions were collected by a focused interview to elicit demographic information, and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL) in the Cambodian language to elicit depression and anxiety scores. Women residing in France (87%) were significantly more likely to show signs symptomatic of depression than women residing in the USA (65%). Women in the study reported about three times as much depression as the average American woman. Large numbers of women residing in both countries were symptomatic of anxiety (82% on average). Both groups experienced extreme symptoms of the culture-bound syndrome, “Khoucherang,” and appeared to be strongly influenced by the different social systems of the two countries.

Keywords: depression, anxiety, mental health, female refugees

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe Countries: Cambodia, France, United States of America

Year: 1998

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