Predictors of the 10 year course of mental health and quality of life for trauma-affected refugees after psychological treatment

Background: Trauma-affected refugee patients benefit from psychological treatment to different degrees. Only a handful of studies has investigated potential predictors of treatment outcome that could throw light on the great variability in outcomes reported for this group. Such knowledge may be vital to better tailor prevention and treatment efforts to the needs of different individuals and subgroups among these patients.


Objective: In a naturalistic and longitudinal study, the aim was to analyse demographics and traumatic exposure as potential predictors of the participants’ long-term trajectories of mental health symptoms and quality of life.


Method: A group of 54 multi-origin adult refugee patients with complex traumatic exposure, such as armed conflicts, persecution, torture, and childhood adversities, were interviewed face to face over up to 10 years; at therapy admittance, and at varying points in time during and after psychotherapy. Checklists of war-related and childhood trauma, mental health symptoms, and quality of life were included in the interviews. In linear mixed effects analyses, interaction was analysed with potential predictors included separately because of the sample size. Time was modelled as continuous from inclusion into the study.


Results: Gender predicted the course of symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression, and of quality of life in physical health and social relationships. Childhood family violence and experiences of torture predicted the course of depression, whereas the extent of exposure to war-related trauma events and having experienced torture predicted the course of anxiety.


Conclusions: The results indicated greater chronicity in male refugees, in refugees who had experienced domestic violence during childhood, in refugees who had experienced torture, and in refugees with more numerous types of potentially traumatic war-related experiences. The findings highlight the need for gender-sensitive research, rehabilitative efforts, and treatment.



  • In a 10 year longitudinal and naturalistic therapy follow-up study of traumatized refugees, female gender, childhood trauma, war trauma, and torture predicted mental health and quality of life outcomes.
  • Male participants responded less than females to therapy.
Opaas, Marianne; Wentzel-Larsen, Tore; Varvin, Sverre | 2022
In: European Journal of Psychotraumatology ; ISSN: 2000-8066 | 13 | 1 | May | 2068910
Depressive Symptoms, Early Childhood Trauma, Longitudinal Study, Migrants, Norwegians, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Predictors, Predisposition, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Quality of Life, Refugees, Torture, Treatment, War