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Study on post-traumatic stress among newly arrived children and young people points to continued need for support

A new study shows that a large proportion of newly arrived children in Sweden between the ages of 16 and 18 report high levels of symptoms that characterize post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. This is especially pronounced among those who came to Sweden as unaccompanied children from Afghanistan.
A new study shows that a large proportion of newly arrived children in Sweden between the ages of 16 and 18 report high levels of symptoms that characterize post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. This is especially pronounced among those who came to Sweden as unaccompanied children from Afghanistan.
Publicerad: 16 Apr 2021
Reading time: ca

The scientific study “Children at risk: A nation-wide, cross-sectional study examining post-traumatic stress symptoms in refugee minors from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan resettled in Sweden between 2014 and 2018” has examined symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among 1,129 newly arrived 16-18 year olds who were received by the municipality in Sweden in 2014-2018.

Newly arrived children and young people’s health and living conditions

The study is part of a larger study of newly arrived children and young people’s health and living conditions conducted by researchers at the Swedish Red Cross University College’s research programme Resiliency, Mental Health and Social Participation among Refugees (RMSR) in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS) in Oslo.

Overall, the study results show that a large proportion - almost four out of ten newly arrived children reported elevated symptoms of post-traumatic stress that may indicate the presence of PTSD or a risk of developing PTSD. The proportion of PTSD among unaccompanied children from Afghanistan was even greater and amounted to over 56 percent among the participants.

Continued need for support

“The study, with its more than 1,100 participants is one of the largest studies of its kind, provides important knowledge that indicates continued need for support for these children who are in an important developmental phase, explains Fredrik Saboonchi, professor of public health science at the Swedish Red Cross University College, and programme director for RMSR and the current study.

According to the authors, it is also worth emphasizing that those who participated in the study may have lived in Sweden for up to five years at the time of the survey. The observed high proportion of young people who report these symptoms can therefore be seen as particularly worrying.

“The results show a need for an increased awareness of health challenges that newly arrived children and young people face during the first years after arrival. It also emphasizes the need to approach these challenges from a public health perspective”, says Øivind Fjeld-Solberg, researcher at RMSR at the Swedish Red Cross University College and at the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS), and lead author of the study.

Read the full study

The study has been published in Conflict and Health and is available here.

Article in Swedish

Contact

Øivind Fjeld-Solberg, main researcher at the Swedish Red Cross University College/RMSR and NKVTS, oivis@nkvts.no, +47 906 13 457

More information

The University of the Swedish Red Cross University College was founded in 1867 and educates approximately 850 students annually in nursing education, one of the most respected in Sweden. Global health and nursing summarise the university college’s unique profile in education, research, and collaboration. The research programme Resiliency, Mental Health and Social Participation among Refugees (RMSR) is a six-year research programme at RKH that aims to strengthen the scientific knowledge base on health and social conditions among people who have fled war and persecution. www.rkh.se.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has a national responsibility for public health issues and works to ensure good public health. The agency also works to ensure that the population is protected against communicable diseases and other health threats. Our vision statement: a public health that strengthens the positive development of society. www.fhm.se

The Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS) do research on violence and traumatic stress. NKVTS aims to help those affected by violence and trauma. The centre is internationally oriented, and develops knowledge on an international, academic level. www.nkvts.no