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Factors predicting symptoms of somatization, depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, self-rated mental and physical health among ecently arrived refugees in Germany – Germany


Yuriy Nesterko, David Jäckle, Michael Friedrich, Laura Holzapfel and Heide Glaesmer

Conflict and Health volume 14, Article number: 44 (2020)



There is a large body of research indicating increased prevalence rates of mental disorders among refugees. However, the vast majority of the evidence available on risk factors for mental disorders among refugees focuses on post-migration stressors and was collected in surveys that were conducted months and sometimes years after the participants had resettled.


In the present study, we analyze socio-demographic and flight-related characteristics as predictors for symptoms of somatization, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as self-rated mental and physical health in recently arrived refugees (up to 4 weeks after arrival) in Germany.


The study was conducted in a reception facility for asylum-seekers in Leipzig, Germany. A total of 1316 adult individuals arrived at the facility during the survey period; 502 took part in the study. The questionnaire (self-administrated) included socio-demographic and flight-related questions as well as standardized instruments for assessing PTSD (PCL-5), depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (HSCL-10) and somatization (SSS-8). Linear regression models were conducted to predict symptoms of different mental disorders as well as self-rated mental and physical health.


Lack of information about family members and subjective need for health care were found to be significantly associated with symptoms of depression, somatization, anxiety, and PTSD. Better self-rated mental health was significantly associated with partnership, childlessness, lower number of traumatic events, and having information about family left behind. No associations were found between flight-related factors and symptom burden.


The results provide initial methodologically robust insights for research and health care services, which should aid in better identifying newly arrived refugees in need of psychosocial care. Furthermore, the results might help answering the question of how to provide health care for highly vulnerable groups within refugee populations regardless their residential status.



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