June 19, 2024

Attachments

BMC Public Health volume 23, Article number: 2157 (2023)

Abstract

Background

The present study examined Afghan asylum seekers’ and refugees’ self-perceived problems, and their experiences of treatment with an adapted version of the brief transdiagnostic psychological intervention “Problem Management Plus” (aPM+). Specifically, the study explored which problems trouble them most and how these problems influence their daily functioning. Further, it examined how various standardized outcome measures correlate with these subjectively perceived problems.

Method

This study is part of a larger RCT study (PIAAS study) in which 88 Afghan asylum seekers and refugees were randomly allocated either to aPM + in addition to treatment as usual (aPM+/TAU) or TAU alone. The presented study uses a multi-method approach consisting of two parts: First, we investigated participants’ self-identified problems and subjective functional impairment using quantitative and qualitative assessment in both the aPM+/TAU and TAU group (n = 88). Second, we conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with a subsample of the aPM+/TAU group (n = 24) to gain a deeper understanding of participants’ personal experiences with aPM + and to obtain suggestions for improvement. Spearman correlations were applied for quantitative data, and deductive and inductive approaches of thematic analysis were used for qualitative data.

Results

We identified six main themes of self-perceived problems (primary post-migration living difficulties, general mental health problems, interpersonal stressors, secondary post-migration living difficulties, mental health problems specifically associated with stress, and somatic problems) and their consequences, as well as subjective functional impairment. Standardized measures of general mental health, posttraumatic psychopathology, and quality of life did not correlate with the intensity of self-perceived problems. aPM + was mostly perceived positively, and few participants had recommendations for its improvement.

Conclusion

The study aimed at giving a voice to Afghan trauma survivors to inform service providers and policy makers about their needs. Based on their expertise, future interventions can be tailored to their actual needs and optimized in terms of practical use. aPM + proved to be a positively perceived intervention that reduces subjective symptom burden and facilitates daily functioning. Culture-sensitive treatments within (mental) health services should increase service utilization and improve (mental) health in the long term.

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