This work was supported in part by a K23 Career Development Award (K23HD059075) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child & Human Development (NICHD). None of the authors report conflicts of interest.
Onset of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression Among Refugees and Voluntary Migrants to the United States
Article first published online: 26 NOV 2012
Copyright © 2012 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
Journal of Traumatic Stress
Volume 25, Issue 6, pages 705–712, December 2012
How to Cite
Rasmussen, A., Crager, M., Baser, R. E., Chu, T. and Gany, F. (2012), Onset of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression Among Refugees and Voluntary Migrants to the United States. J. Traum. Stress, 25: 705–712. doi: 10.1002/jts.21763
- Issue published online: 6 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 26 NOV 2012
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child & Human Development (NICHD). Grant Number: K23HD059075
Although refugees are generally thought to be at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive episode (MDE), few studies have compared onset of PTSD and MDE between refugees and voluntary migrants. Given differences in migration histories, onset should differ pre- and postmigration. The National Latino and Asian American Survey (NLAAS) is a national representative, complex dataset measuring psychiatric morbidity, mental health service use, and migration history among Latino and Asian immigrants to the United States. Of the 3,260 foreign-born participants, 660 were refugees (a weighted proportion of 9.52%). Refugees were more likely to report a history of war-related trauma, but reports of other traumatic events were similar. Premigration onset of PTSD was statistically higher for refugees than voluntary migrants, odds ratio (OR) = 4.86, 95% confidence interval (CI) [2.01, 11.76], where postmigration onset for PTSD was not, OR = 0.61, 95% CI [0.29, 1.28]; a similar pattern was found for MDE, OR = 1.98, 95% CI [1.11, 3.51]; and OR = 1.02, 95% CI [0.65, 1.62], respectively. Although refugees arrive in host countries with more pressing psychiatric needs, onset is comparable over time, suggesting that postmigration refugees and voluntary migrants may be best served by similar programs.