Skip Navigation LinksHome > March 2002 - Volume 190 - Issue 3 > SCIENCE-BASED POLICY FOR PSYCHOSOCIAL INTERVENTIONS IN REFUG...
Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease:
Article

SCIENCE-BASED POLICY FOR PSYCHOSOCIAL INTERVENTIONS IN REFUGEE CAMPS: A Cambodian Example

MOLLICA, RICHARD F. M.D., M.A.R.1; CUI, XINGJIA M.D., M.P.H.2; MCINNES, KEITH M.P.H.3; MASSAGLI, MICHAEL P. Ph.D.1

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Abstract

No longer are the high rates of psychiatric morbidity associated with mass violence in refugee populations invisible to the humanitarian assistance community. However, identification of mental health risk and protective factors that can be utilized by policy planners is still lacking. The objective of this report is to provide an analytic approach to determining these factors. A description is provided from the first large-scale epidemiological study of Cambodian refugees confined to the Thailand-Cambodian border in the 1980s and 1990s. The original data from this study are reanalyzed to evaluate the mental health impact of psychosocial factors subject to the influence of camp authorities, such as opportunities in the refugee camp environment and personal behaviors, in addition to trauma. The results suggest the extraordinary capacity of refugees to protect themselves against mental illness despite horrific life experiences. The recommendation emerges for refugee policy makers to create programs that support work, indigenous religious practices, and culture-based altruistic behavior among refugees. As refugee mental health policy receives increasing attention from the international community, it must consist of recommendations and practices based on scientific analysis and empirical evidence.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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