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J Immigr Minor Health. 2014 Dec;16(6):1069-76. doi: 10.1007/s10903-013-9817-5.

The prevalence of torture and associated symptoms in United States Iraqi refugees.

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Community Health Alliance/ChapCare, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA,


Iraqi refugees face difficulties resettling in the US, which may be partially due to high rates of torture. This study determines the rates of torture experience, primary and secondary, among Iraqi refugees in the US; and the association to physical and mental health symptoms on arrival. A retrospective review was conducted in 2011 on the post-arrival health screens of Iraqi refugees resettled in Utah in 2008 and 2009. Measures included reports of torture experience as defined by the United Nations; reports of physical and mental health symptoms at the time of screening; and association of torture to the presence of symptoms on arrival. The study included the health screens of 497 (97%) of eligible Iraqi refugees. Most experienced torture (56%) before arrival in the US Logistic regression revealed that torture was the most significant predictor of mental illness symptoms. Iraqi refugees in the US have a high prevalence of torture, and torture is associated with the presence of both mental and physical symptoms on the post-arrival health screen. This information is critical to the development of successful resettlement strategies for Iraqi refugees.

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