Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Asylum Seekers and Refugees from Chechnya, Afghanistan, and West Africa: Gender Differences in Symptomatology and Coping


Renner, Walter, and Ingrid Salem. 2009. "Post-Traumatic Stress in Asylum Seekers and Refugees from Chechnya, Afghanistan, and West Africa: Gender Differences in Symptomatology and Coping." International Journal of Social Psychiatry 55 (2): 99-108.

Authors: Walter Renner, Ingrid Salem


Background: Internationally, a high number of refugees are in need of help as a consequence of post-traumatic stress or acculturation problems.

Aims: The present study investigated the gender-specific requirements for such interventions taking clinical symptoms as well as coping strategies into account. 

Methods: Five psychometric instruments assessing anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, somatic symptoms, and social adaptation were administered and semi-structured interviews with n = 150 asylum seekers and refugees from Chechnya, Afghanistan, and West Africa were conducted.

Results: On the level of total test scores, women reported significantly more somatic symptoms than men but there were no further gender differences. On the item level of the questionnaires as well as with respect to the categories obtained from the interview data, marked gender differences were found. Women, as compared to men, reported more somatic symptoms, emotional outbursts, and loss of sexual interest, while men reported detachment. For women, typical coping strategies were concentrating on their children and various indoor activities, while men preferred looking for work and socializing. 

Conclusion: Social psychiatric interventions should take gender-specific symptoms and coping strategies into account. For asylum seekers and refugees, same gender client-therapist dyads and groups are highly recommended.

Keywords: posttraumatic stress disorder, female refugees, male refugees, mental health, anxiety, depression

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma Regions: Africa, West Africa, Asia, South Asia, Europe Countries: Afghanistan, Russian Federation

Year: 2009

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