Poor Quality of Life and Health in Young to Middle Aged Bosnian Female War Refugees: A Population-Based Study


Sundquist, Jan, Alija Behmen-Vincevic, and Sven-Erik Johansson. 1998. “Poor Quality of Life and Health in Young to Middle Aged Bosnian Female War Refugees: A Population-Based Study.” Public Health 112 (1): 21–26. doi:10.1038/sj.ph.1900411.

Authors: Jan Sundquist, Alija Behmen-Vincevic, Sven-Erik Johansson


Objective: To evaluate whether female Bosnian refugees have a poorer quality of life than Swedish women.

Design: A cross-sectional study of quality of life using a slightly modified ‘Göteborg Quality of Life’ instrument. The women rated their global well-being (19 items) on a 7-degree scale ranging from ‘very bad’ (1) ‘to excellent, could not be better’. The second part of the questionnaire consisted of 29 yes/no items about somatic and psychological symptoms which should take less than 5 min to complete. Factor analysis was performed in order to reduce the number of variables. Differences between mean ranks were tested by the Kruskal–Wallis test. Differences in distributions of the yes/no-questions in the different groups were tested with a likelihood ratio χ2 test.

Setting: Malmö and Lund, two cities in Southern Sweden.

Subjects: A simple random sample of 120 women aged 18–59, born in Bosnia-Hercegovina with accepted refugee status, and registered in Lund and Malmö, was interviewed. The control group for this was 292 Swedish women of the same age, registered in Dalby (Lund). The response rate for Bosnian women was 74% and for Swedish women 75%.

Main outcome measures: The factor analysis resulted in one factor, ‘global health’, to which all the well-being variables were related.

Results: 38% of the Bosnian and 23% of the Swedes had bad global health. Bosnian women with bad global health had lower mean rankings than Swedish women, namely low quality of life in ‘appetite’, ‘memory’, ‘leisure time’, and aspects of mental well-being such as ‘energy’, ‘patience’, ‘sleep’, ‘mood’, and ‘health’. They also had larger proportions of symptoms than Swedish women.

Conclusions: Bosnian women irrespective of health status had a poorer quality of life in most variables and more symptoms than Swedish women with good global health.

Keywords: Bosnian refugees, quality of life, cross-sectional study, female health

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sweden

Year: 1998

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