Society and Workplace Diversity Research Group

Clinical encounters with refugees suffering from mental health problems

Clinical encounters with refugees suffering from mental health problems
Wikimedia Commons

Main content

A large number of refugees coming to Norway suffer from mental health problems due to stressful experiences during and after flight. It is a challenge for the public health sector to offer services meeting the needs of this group. Immigrants, particularly from certain areas, tend to use specialized mental health services less than the native born population. Many factors may explain such differences, including views about how mental health problems should be treated, shame and taboos, knowledge about available health services, and views about where and from whom help should be sought.

The main objective of the project is to build a research-based platform to enhance and tailor mental health services to meet the needs of refugees. Specifically, it will provide knowledge about mechanisms impacting their access and use of mental health services, with a focus on the general practitioner (GP).  The first subproject shall examine how refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia understand and prefer to manage/treat mental health problems, and experiences with public health services in Norway.

Data will be collected from focus group interviews and surveys. The second project will focus on the clinical encounter between GPs and patients with refugee background. Focus-group interviews with GPs will be conducted, as well as an experimental study consisting of film clips with patients (differing in ethnicity and gender) presenting mental health problems. For each patient, the GP will be asked to give a clinical judgment. The film-clips along with other results from the project will be integrated into an interactive-we-based training program for GPs and health professionals working with public health services.

The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council (HELSEVEL, 2018-2021)