Many Cambodians Experience PTSD After Resettlement -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Grant N. Marshall, Ph.D., of RAND, Santa Monica, Calif., and colleagues assessed the population prevalence, related illnesses and correlates of psychiatric disorders in the U.S. Cambodian refugee community 25 years after the Khmer Rouge era. The study included face-to-face interviews, conducted in Khmer language, with a random sample of households from the Cambodian community in Long Beach, Calif., the largest such community in the United States. The interviews, conducted between October 2003 and February 2005, included a total of 490 adults aged 35 to 75 years who lived in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge reign and immigrated to the United States prior to 1993.

All participants had been exposed to trauma before immigration. Ninety-nine percent (n = 483) experienced near-death due to starvation and 90 percent (n = 437) had a family member or friend murdered. Seventy percent (n = 338) also reported exposure to violence after settlement in the United States. High rates of PTSD (62 percent) and major depression (51 percent) were found. PTSD and major depression often existed simultaneously in this population (n=209; 42 percent) and each showed a strong dose-response relationship with measures of traumatic exposure. In further analyses, PTSD and major depression were associated with premigration and postmigration trauma exposure and older age.

“We found evidence of pronounced mental health problems in previously traumatised refugees. Indeed, only approximately 30 percent of the sample was free of any of the 3 disorders [PTSD, major depression, alcohol use disorder] assessed. These results indicate that members of refugee communities can have substantial need for mental health services even years removed from their tribulations,” the authors write.; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)