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Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Apr;31(3):399-417. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2010.10.004. Epub 2010 Nov 6.

A critical review of psychological treatments of posttraumatic stress disorder in refugees.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, NSW 2052, Australia.


Despite much research evidence that refugees suffer from elevated rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), relatively few studies have examined the effectiveness of psychological treatments for PTSD in refugees. The field of refugee mental health intervention is dominated by two contrasting approaches, namely trauma-focused therapy and multimodal interventions. This article firstly defines these two approaches, then provides a critical review of 19 research studies that have been undertaken to investigate the efficacy of these treatments. Preliminary research evidence suggests that trauma-focused approaches may have some efficacy in treating PTSD in refugees, but limitations in the methodologies of studies caution against drawing definitive inferences. It is clear that research assessing the treatment of PTSD in refugees is lagging behind that available for other traumatized populations. The review examines important considerations in the treatment of refugees. A theoretical framework is offered that outlines contextual issues, maintaining factors, change mechanisms and the distinctive challenges to traditional trauma-focused treatments posed by the needs of refugees with PTSD.

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