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Keywords:

  • cross-cultural comparison;
  • mental disorders;
  • epidemiology;
  • mental health services

Objective:  To compare the prevalence of common mental disorders, disability and health service utilization amongst Vietnamese refugees resettled in Australia for 11 years, with data obtained from a national survey of the host population.

Method:  A stratified multistage probability household survey of 1611 Vietnamese undertaken in the state of New South Wales was compared with data from 7961 Australian-born respondents. Measures included the CIDI 2.1 and the MOS SF-12.

Results:  The 12-month prevalence of anxiety, depression and drug and alcohol dependence amongst Vietnamese was 6.1% compared with 16.7% amongst Australians. Vietnamese with a mental illness reported higher disability but exhibited similar levels of mental health consultation. The overall service burden of mental disorders was lower for the Vietnamese.

Conclusion:  The findings suggest that refugee groups resettled for some time in Western countries may show sound mental health adaptation and do not necessarily impose a burden on general or mental health services.