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BMC Psychiatry. 2013 May 24;13:148. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-13-148.

Is legal status impacting outcomes of group therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder with male asylum seekers and refugees from Iran and Afghanistan?

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  • 1Psychotrauma Centrum Zuid Nederland/Reinier van Arkel groep, Den Bosch, The Netherlands.



Legal status and other resettlement stressors are known to impact mental health of asylum seekers and refugees. However, the ways in which they interact with treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with these populations is still poorly understood. The aim of this study was to examine whether legal status and other resettlement stressors influence outcomes of a trauma-focused group PTSD treatment within a day-treatment setting with asylum seekers and refugees.


Sixty six male Iranian and Afghan patients with PTSD residing in the Netherlands were assessed with self-rated symptom checklists for PTSD, anxiety and depression, and a demographic questionnaire one week before and two weeks after the treatment. Multivariate linear regression analysis was used to examine the impact of legal status and living arrangements on the treatment outcomes per symptom domain.


The results suggest that both asylum seekers and refugees can be helped with their mental health complaints with a trauma-focused group therapy for PTSD regardless of their legal status. Obtaining a refugee status in a course of the treatment appears to improve the treatment outcomes.


Legal status is impacting outcomes of group therapy for PTSD with male asylum seekers and refugees. Asylum seekers may benefit from group treatment regardless of unstable living conditions.

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