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Refugees at Higher Risk of Psychosis and Mental Illness

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lasse Brandt, M.D. and Jonathan Henssler, M.D.
Charité University Medicine
Berlin, Germany

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Migration has increased globally and the effect of migration on health is highly relevant for clinicians, particularly in mental health. There is no increase in the risk for nonaffective psychosis in the home countries of migrants, so environmental factors could be of key importance. Refugees are often subjected to inhuman conditions. While migration has repeatedly been identified and confirmed as a risk factor for psychosis, the impact of refugee experience on this risk of psychosis was unclear. 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: In this systematic review and meta-analysis of 9 studies, refugees were at a higher relative risk of developing nonaffective psychoses compared with the native population in Western host countries and nonrefugee migrants. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Refugee experience appears to be an independent risk factor for nonaffective psychosis in migrants. This finding supports the need for targeted psychiatric prevention strategies and outreach programs for the vulnerable group of refugees.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Register-based studies from countries with different social, economic, and political characteristics appear to be needed to further assess the generalizability of the findings from the present study. Importantly, more investigations are needed to assess the full range of mental disorders in refugees and the mechanisms of their incidence, prevention, and treatment in this cohort.

No disclosures


Brandt L, Henssler J, Müller M, Wall S, Gabel D, Heinz A. Risk of Psychosis Among Refugees: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online August 14, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.1937




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Last Updated on August 21, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD