Country of birth, time period of resettlement and subsequent treated common mental disorders in young refugees in Sweden

Ridwanul Amin, Syed Rahman, Thomas E Dorner, Emma Björkenstam, Magnus Helgesson, Marie L Norredam, Marit Sijbrandij, Cansu Alozkan Sever, Ellenor Mittendorfer-Rutz


BACKGROUND: Little is known regarding treatment for common mental disorders (CMDs) in young refugees. We aimed to identify (i) if the risk of treatment for CMDs in young refugees varies by their country of birth, compared with the Swedish-born population and (ii) if time period of resettlement influences these possible associations.

METHODS: All Swedish-born individuals and people who were granted refugee status, aged 16-25 years, living in Sweden on 31 December 1999, 2004 or 2009 (around 1 million people with 3-4% refugees in each cohort), were followed for 4 years for treated CMDs by linking register data. To facilitate stratified analyses by refugees' country of birth, the 2009 cohort was followed for 7 years with regard to specialized healthcare and antidepressant prescription due to CMDs. Hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals were computed in crude and adjusted models.

RESULTS: Refugees in the 2009 cohort with 7-year follow-up had a 25% lower risk for treated CMDs, compared with the Swedish-born. Stratified analysis by country of birth showed a similarly lower risk regarding treated CMDs among refugees from all countries but Iran [hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals): 1.15 (1.05-1.26)] than their Swedish-born peers. No substantial effect of time period of resettlement was observed in the risk for treated CMDs in refugees.

CONCLUSIONS: Treatment for CMDs is lower in young refugees than in the majority population in Sweden, is stable across time, but varies with country of birth. Strategies to improve access to mental healthcare for young refugees are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1169-1175
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2020


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