Post-Migration Stressors and Their Association With Symptom Reduction and Non-Completion During Treatment for Traumatic Grief in Refugees

Background: Resettled refugees exposed to trauma and loss are at risk to develop mental disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and persistent complex bereavement disorder (PCBD). Post-migration stressors have been linked to poor mental health and smaller treatment effects.


Aim: Our aim was to evaluate reductions in PTSD and PCBD symptoms and to explore the presence of post-migration stressors and their associations with symptom change and non-completion in a traumatic grief focused treatment in a cohort of refugees.


Methods: Paired sample t-tests were used to test the significance of the symptom reductions in PTSD and PCBD symptoms during treatment. The presence of post-migration stressors was derived from a qualitative analysis of the patient files. Associations between post-migration stressors and symptom reductions as well as non-completion were calculated.


Results: In this uncontrolled study, 81 files of consecutive patients were included. Significant reductions in both PCBD and PTSD symptomatology with medium effect sizes were found. Patients experienced a mean of three different post-migration stressors during the treatment. Undocumented asylum seekers were more likely to be non-completers. Ongoing conflict in the country of origin was associated with smaller PTSD symptom reductions and the total number of post-migration stressors was associated with smaller PCBD symptom reductions.


Conclusions: Treatment for resettled refugees for traumatic grief coincides with alleviations in both PCBD and PTSD symptomatology. Specific post-migration stressors were associated with reduced treatment effects and increased non-completion. This is a first step towards well-informed improvements of mental health interventions for resettled refugees.


A.A.A. Manik J. Djelantik, Annemiek de Heus, Diede Kuiper, Rolf J. Kleber, Paul A. Boelen and Geert E. Smid | 2020
In: Frontiers in Psychiatry ; ISSN: 1664-0640 | 11 | 407
Bereavement, Interventions, Mental health, Migration, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Prolonged Grief Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Refugees, Statistical Analysis, Stressors, Traumatic Grief, Treatment