Chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Vietnamese Refugees: A Prospective Community Study of Prevalence, Course, Psychopathology, and Stressors

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A community cohort of 145 Vietnamese boat refugees in Norway was prospectively studied for presence of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after resettlement. Ten percent had PTSD on arrival and/or after 3 years. This group had been exposed to significantly more traumatic stress before their escape (e.g., reeducation camps, combat, and other war incidents) and had more psychopathology (SCL-90-R Global Assessment Scale) after resettlement. A logistic regression analysis indicated that different types of traumatic stress had an independent relationship with chronic PTSD. Nine SCL-90-R items discriminated between the PTSD group and the rest both on arrival and follow-up. These were not anxiety items, but related to interpersonal sensitivity, somatization, and aggression. The inclusion of additional diagnostic features in the criteria for chronic PTSD is indicated.

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