Assessing Severity of Psychological Distress Among Refugees With the Refugee Health Screener, 13-Item Version

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Abstract

The recent inflow of refugees to Sweden has put pressure on health care as well as revealing a need for methods regarding assessment of refugees' mental health status. The present study investigated the use of the Refugee Health Screener (RHS; Hollifield et al., 2013) to distinguish among severity levels of symptoms of psychological distress in refugees. Refugees residing in asylum accommodations (n = 510) were screened with RHS-13, together with screeners for depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Risk for mild, moderate, or severe levels of depression, anxiety, or/and PTSD was used as screening proxy. Receiver operating characteristic analysis rendered cutoff scores of 11, 18, and 25, for mild, moderate, and severe symptoms, respectively. Evaluated against each symptom scale separately, cutoffs performed well. Cutoff 11, previously identified by Hollifield et al. (2016), was also confirmed. However, utilization of additional cutoffs could improve refugee mental health by guiding clinical decision making.

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