Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased anxiety and depression around the world. Refugees may be particularly vulnerable to the mental health effects of the pandemic because of their higher rates of mental health disorders, trauma histories, and daily stressors. Objectives: This study used data from a controlled trial of a brief behavioural intervention for psychological distress in Syrian refugees living in Azraq Camp in Jordan to examine the psychological effects of the pandemic on refugee mental health. Method: A total of 410 participants were randomized to either the intervention or control arms of the trial and were assessed at baseline and 3-month follow-up. Half the sample (199; 48.5%) completed their 3-month follow-up assessment after the pandemic restrictions began in Jordan and 211 (51.5%) completed the assessment prior to the pandemic. Refugees were independently assessed for symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression at baseline and follow-up, and pandemic-related worries were assessed at follow-up for those who completed their assessment during the pandemic. Results: The most commonly reported worries were economic difficulties (82.4%), shortage of essential supplies (71.3%), and infecting others (59.7%) or themselves (51.9%). Refugees who were assessed during the pandemic had less severe PTSD symptoms than those assessed prior to the pandemic. Significant predictors of pandemic-related worries were lower levels of depression prior to the pandemic and greater anxiety during the pandemic. Conclusion: These findings highlight the specific needs of refugees during the pandemic and suggest that pre-existing mental health issues may not necessarily be the key risk factors for who will experience major mental health issues or worries during the pandemic.
|Translated title of the contribution||A longitudinal study of mental health before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in Syrian refugees|
|Journal||European Journal of Psychotraumatology|
|Early online date||10 Nov 2021|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council-European Union Grant  and a European Union Horizon 2020 grant . The study funders had no role in study design; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing of the report; or the decision to submit the report for publication.
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- mental health
- refugee camp