Prevalence in refugees and asylum seekers

What is prevalence?

Prevalence represents the overall proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder of interest. It is different from incidence, which represents only the new cases that have developed over a particular time period. Point prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder at a given point in time (e.g., at one-month post-trauma), while period prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder over specific time periods (e.g., one to two months post-trauma). Lifetime prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who have ever had the disorder and lifetime morbid risk also includes those who had the disorder but were deceased at the time of the survey.

What is the evidence for the prevalence of PTSD in refugees and asylum seekers?

Moderate to high quality evidence finds the prevalence of PTSD in war-affected refugees and citizens is around 31%. Rates were highest in samples exposed to recent conflict, to torture, to more traumatic events, to political terror, and in people from Cambodia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Africa.

Moderate quality evidence finds the prevalence of PTSD in adult Syrian refugees living in Western or Middle Eastern countries is around 43%. The prevalence of PTSD in Iraqi refugees living in Western countries is up to 37%.

Moderate quality evidence finds the prevalence of PTSD in child and adolescent refugees is around 23%, with rates highest in those displaced for less than two years and in those with an insecure visa status.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 5:13 am, 5th August 2021
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

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