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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

The MindSpring project: Prevention of trauma-related mental health problems among refugees

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Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious psychiatric condition that in some individuals causes severe disabilities. It is estimated that PTSD affects approximately 30% of all refugees. Newly arrived refugees are in an especially vulnerable position as cultural differences often are experienced as additional stressors to pre-migration and migration trauma. There is therefore an urgent need to take steps early on to prevent the development of trauma-related psychiatric disorders as well as to identify individuals in need of immediate psychiatric treatment. The current knowledge about preventive interventions is however very limited. Although rehabilitation programmes for refugees were first established in countries of resettlement more than 30 years ago, the field has been slow to develop and apply evidenced-based interventions, a gap that it is now recognised and urgently in need of being addressed Particularly when it comes to group interventions for trauma-affected refugees only few studies have been published.
The aim of the project is to prevent PTSD and other mental health problems among trauma-affected refugees by achieving a better understanding of the effects of early interventions. The objectives are to evaluate short- and long-term effects of the psychosocial group intervention MindSpring among refugees who have recently obtained asylum.

The project includes three studies about the MindSpring intervention:
1)The pilot study: Adjustment of the MindSpring intervention
2)The matched control study: Determining effects of preventive interventions among newly arrived refugees
3) A follow-up study

The MindSpring pilot study
This pilot study will be carried out in order to customise the intervention to newly arrived refugees. Content of the intervention, cultural acceptability as well as overall satisfaction is evaluated with a satisfaction survey and focus groups. The WHO-5 self-rating is completed in the beginning of and after the intervention to provide a preliminary picture of change over the intervention course. Results will be used to adapt the intervention and research setup before the matched control group study

The MindSpring controlled study
Built upon the results of the pilot study a matched control group study will be carried out. Active participants complete a brief sociodemographic questionnaire, an intervention specific questionnaire as well as the Refugee Health screener (RHS-13) and an extended version of the WHO-5. Ratings are completed before and after participating in the MindSpring group intervention. Controls are identified via language schools and will be rated with the same intervals. In addition, semistructured interviews will be conducted with approximately 10 participants (5 having the lower pre-post scores and 5 with the highest pre-post scores). The interviews will explore what the participants learn from their participation in the MindSpring intervention and how they might apply lessons learned in their everyday life.

The Follow-up Study
Via registers, participants from the MindSpring controlled study will investigated in a follow-up perspective to determine if parcipants come in contact with public psychiatric treatment facilities.

Expected Results:
The project is expected to contribute with new important knowledge about the effect of early interventions on the mental health and wellbeing among refugees. In the long term the results can be used to prevent that individuals with refugee background develop chronic mental disorders and thus potentially cut down society’s expenses of treatment, flexible jobs and early retirement. We expect to determine if MindSpring seems to have a promising long-term preventive effect and we also expect to gain in-depth knowledge on which aspects of the MindSpring interventions that might be specifically helpful and beneficial to its participants.

Expected Impact:
We expect the results from the project to inform how the MindSpring intervention might be further developed, adapted and improved in the future so that it helps prevent mental illness for as many refugees as possible.

    Research areas

  • Health Sciences - Transcultural Psychiatry, Psychosocial Interventions, Observational Study

ID: 59565646