Mental health of Bosnian refugee children: A comparison of clinician appraisal with parent, child and teacher reports

  • Goldin S
  • Hägglöf B
  • Levin L
 et al. 
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This study compares clinician appraisal of Bosnian refugee children with independent parent, child and teacher reports. From whom and by what means can children "at risk" be reasonably identified? Forty-eight Bosnian refugee children (aged 7-20), resettled in Sweden 1994-95, were assessed clinically by means of a semi-structured interview. Thereafter, standardized mental health questionnaires were administered to parents (Achenbach's Child Behavior Checklist), children (Achenbach's Youth Self-Report and Macksoud's Posttraumatic Stress Reaction Checklist) and teachers (clinician designed School Competence Scale and Achenbach's Teacher's Report Form). On clinician interview, nearly half of the children (48%) were identified with one or more mental health problem "demanding further attention". Depressiveness was the single most prevalent symptom (31%); followed by post-traumatic stress (23%), and anxiety-regressiveness (15%). At the same time, 75% of the children were rated by teachers as "quite competent" in school. Parent, child and clinician appraisals of primary school children showed broad similarities. Teachers reported a similar prevalence of child distress, but identified different symptoms and different children demanding attention. Evaluation of teenage youths showed greater disparity: teenagers labeled their own symptoms more often as post-traumatic stress reactions and teachers identified few youths in need of attention. Inter-relatedness among parent, child and clinician appraisals supports the robustness of our semi-structured interview. At the same time, apartness of teacher report underscores the need to incorporate an outside-world vantage point in the process of risk assessment. Also, a more concrete presentation of post-traumatic stress reactions and a higher "further attention" threshold for inward emotional problems seem called for.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Children and adolescents
  • Mental health
  • Multiple informants
  • PTSD
  • Refugees

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  • Stephen Goldin

  • Bruno Hägglöf

  • Lilian Levin

  • Lars Åke Persson

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