Postmigration Living Problems and Common Psychiatric Disorders in Iraqi Asylum Seekers in the Netherlands

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In a previous community-based, national study among Iraqi asylum seekers, a long asylum procedure was found to have a higher risk for common psychiatric disorders than adverse life events in Iraq. In the present article, the postmigration period is considered in more detail and evaluated in relationship with psychiatric disorders. Respondents were interviewed with fully structured, culturally validated, translated questionnaires. With the use of a Post- migration Living Problems questionnaire, worries about all kinds of problems were gathered. Psychiatric (DSM-IV) disorders were measured with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 2.1. Factor analysis was done on the postmigration living problems, and in univariate and multivariate analyses, associations with psychopathology were calculated. Results show that clusters of postmigration living problems could be identified: family issues, discrimination, asylum procedure, socioeconomic living conditions, socioreligious aspects, and work-related issues. There was a significant relationship between all clustered postmigration living problems and psychopathology, except for socioreligious aspects. Multivariate logistic regression showed that lack of work, family issues, and asylum procedure stress had the highest odds ratios for psychopathology. The findings appeal to governments to shorten the asylum procedures, allow asylum seekers to work, and give preference to family reunion. Mental health workers should recognize the impact of postmigration living problems and consider focusing their treatment on coping with these problems instead of traumas from the past.

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