Journal article
Mental Health and Quality of Life among Asylum Seekers and Refugees Living in Refugee Housing Facilities in Sweden

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Publication Details
Author list: Leiler, Anna
Publisher: Springer
Publication year: 2019
Start page: 543
End page: 551
Number of pages: 9
ISSN: 0933-7954
View additional information: View in Web of Science™


In 2015, there was a high influx of refugees to Sweden, creating an extreme situation where individuals were forced to remain in large housing facilities for long periods. The present study aims to describe the mental health and quality of life of these individuals.

Methods. Data, based on 510 individuals, were obtained by means of a questionnaire at open screenings conducted at or nearby refugee housing facilities. Of the participating refugees, 367 were asylum seekers and 143 had received a residence permit but were still awaiting a more permanent housing solution. The questionnaire included measures of depressive symptoms (PHQ-9), symptoms of anxiety (GAD-7), risk of having post traumatic stress disorder (PC-PTSD), and quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF).

Results. Of the total sample, 56-58.4% reported clinically significant levels of symptoms of depression, anxiety and risk of having PTSD. Prevalence estimates were higher among asylum seekers than among those who had received their residence permit. Quality of life was generally rated below population norms and correlated negatively with mental health outcomes.

Conclusions. Individuals residing in refugee housing facilities show high levels of psychological distress and rate their quality of life as low. Asylum seekers score higher than those having received a residence permit. These results are troublesome since the wait time for asylum decisions has lengthened considerably after 2015. The results of the present study calls for the urgency of societal actions to shorten the asylum process wait time and improve conditions at the housing facilities.

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