Prevalence and predictors of common mental disorders among Syrian refugees in Istanbul, Turkey: a cross-sectional study

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Abstract

Purpose: The war in Syria has created the greatest refugee crisis in the twenty-first century. Turkey hosts the highest number of registered Syrian refugees, who are at increased risk of common mental disorders because of their exposure to war, violence and post-displacement stressors. The aim of this paper is to examine the prevalence and predictors of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among Syrian refugees living in Turkey. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of adult Syrian refugees was conducted between February and May 2018 in Istanbul (Sultanbeyli district). Participants (N = 1678) were randomly selected through the registration system of the district municipality. The Hopkins Symptoms Checklist (HSCL-25) was used to measure anxiety and depression and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist (PCL-5) assessed posttraumatic stress. Descriptive and multivariate regression analyses were used. Results: The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD were 36.1%, 34.7% and 19.6%, respectively. Comorbidity was high. Regression analyses identified several socio-demographic, health and post-displacement variables that predicted common mental disorders including: being female, facing economic difficulties, previous trauma experience, and unmet need for social support, safety, law and justice. A lifetime history of mental health treatment and problems accessing adequate healthcare were associated with depression and anxiety but not with PTSD. Conclusions: Mental disorder symptoms are highly prevalent among Syrian refugees in Turkey. The association with post-displacement factors points to the importance of comprehensive health and social services that can address these social, economic and cultural stressors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-484
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded through the STRENGTHS (Syrian REfuGees MeNTal HealTH Care Systems) project. The STRENGTHS project is funded under Horizon 2020—the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014–2020) (Grant no. 733337). The content of this article reflects only the authors’ views and the European Community is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Funding Information:
Electronic data solutions were provided by LSHTM Open Data Kit (odk.lshtm.ac.uk).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

Copyright:
Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Posttraumatic stress disorders
  • Syrian refugees

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