Pharmacological treatment of refugees with trauma-related disorders: What do we know today?

​Charlotte Kærgaard Sonne, Jessica Carlsson, Per Bech and Erik Lykke Mortensen

Transcultural Psychiatry. December 2016 [Epub ahead of print]. DOI:10.1177/1363461516682180.


There is a dearth of evidence on the effectiveness of pharmacological treatment for refugees with trauma-related disorders. The present paper provides an overview of available literature on the subject and discusses the transferability of results from studies on other groups of patients with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We conducted a systematic review of published treatment outcome studies on PTSD and depression among refugees. Fifteen studies were identified and reviewed. Most studies focused on the use of antidepressants. Included studies differed widely in method and quality. The majority were observational studies and case studies. Small sample sizes limited the statistical power. Few studies reported effect sizes, confidence intervals, and statistical significance of findings. No specific pharmacological treatment for PTSD among refugees can be recommended on the basis of the available literature. There is a need for well-designed clinical trials, especially with newer antidepressants and antipsychotics. Until such studies are available, clinical practice and design of trials can be guided by results from studies of other groups of PTSD patients, although differences in pharmacogenetics, compliance, and trauma reactions may affect the direct transferability of results from studies on nonrefugee populations.


For more details about this article, please contact Jessica Carlsson:

Responsible editor