Economic, social and cultural conditions before and after displacement influence the mental health of refugees, according to a meta-analysis published in this JAMA theme issue. Researchers analyzed the medical literature to find studies about the mental health of refugees (including internally displaced persons, asylum seekers, and stateless persons). The researchers write that existing data from several international agencies indicate that over 42 million people can be considered refugees and displaced from their homes because of war, political violence or related threats. The researchers found worse mental health outcomes were observed for refugees who are living in institutional accommodation, experiencing restricted economic opportunity, displaced internally within their own country, repatriated to a country they had previously fled, or whose initiating conflict was unresolved. Refugees who were older, more educated, and female and who had higher predisplacement socioeconomic status and rural residence also had worse outcomes.
(JAMA. 2005; 294:602-612)