Assessing “Credible Fear”: A Psychometric Examination of the Trauma Symptom Inventory-2 in the Context of Immigration Court Evaluations

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Abstract

Recent immigration trends indicate that the United States is home to a remarkably diverse and rapidly growing population of displaced persons. Many of these individuals have survived exceptional trauma and are thus particularly vulnerable to trauma-related behavioral health disorders. Mental health professionals are commonly asked to assess immigrants within this population in the service of immigration court decision making. These assessments present a variety of challenges for clinicians, including the assessment and documentation of trauma-related symptoms across cultural bounds. The Trauma Symptom Inventory-2 (TSI-2) may be uniquely suited to the demands of immigration court assessments, but it has not been previously examined in a culturally diverse sample. The current study provided an examination of the TSI-2 within a sample of immigrants with histories of trauma. De-identified TSI-2 data were drawn from several clinicians’ existing immigration assessment files. Reliability and standardization sample comparison results indicated that the TSI-2 exhibits sufficient internal consistency within this population, and that immigrants with histories of trauma generally respond similarly to individuals in trauma-specific clinical samples (with several notable exceptions). Specific clinical implications are discussed.

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