Published May 1, 2018
Congratulations to Assistant Professor Isok Kim on the publication of his article, "Behavioral health symptoms among refugees from Burma: Examination of sociodemographic and migration-related factors," in the Asian American Journal of Psychology.
Kim, I. (2018). Behavioral health symptoms among refugees from Burma: Examination of sociodemographic and migration-related factors. Asian American Journal of Psychology.
Despite representing the largest share of U.S. refugee resettlement in the past decade, we know very little about refugees from Burma or about their behavioral health problems. Current literature suggests that refugees likely suffer from depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcohol use disorder. Using a subset of data from a community-based research project, we examined how sociodemographic and migration-related factors are associated with behavioral health outcomes among two major ethnic groups of refugees from Burma, namely, the Burman (n = 84) and the Karen (n = 100) ethnic people. Four behavioral health outcome variables were examined: Symptoms of depression and anxiety were assessed with the Hopkins Symptom Checklist, PTSD symptoms with the Refugee Health Screener-15, and alcohol use disorder symptoms with the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test. Univariate analyses described sociodemographic, migration-related, and behavioral health characteristics by Burman and Karen groups. Multivariate linear regressions were then conducted to examine associations between sociodemographic and migration-related factors with four outcome variables. Results revealed that sociodemographic (ethnicity, sex, and education) and migration-related (length of camp stay and English proficiency) factors are significantly and consistently associated with one or more outcome variables. The study findings suggest that, given high symptom levels reported by both Burman and Karen refugees, health-care professionals ought to pay special attention to psychosomatic symptoms related to depression, anxiety, and PTSD, especially among Karen ethnic as well as female refugees from Burma.