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Abstract Koen Rieff (2019)

Refugee minors are at risk for mental health problems due to experiences in their past and in the host country. Little is known about recognition of those mental health problems by General Practitioners (GPs), nor how they act when they suspect or diagnose mental health problems in these groups, nor for which complaints refugee minors visit their GP. Our aim was describing care provided by GPs to refugee minors.

Patient records from 2 GP’s offices were analysed for reasons of encounter, diagnoses and treatment with specific attention to mental health We compared all consultations of refugee minors from 1-Sept-2014 until 1-Sept-2019 to all consultations in an age-matched control group in the same period.
Findings: 69 refugees from 7 different countries were identified in a total of 9280 patients. Telephonic consultations took place significantly less often in the refugees group (0,4 / year)  compared to the control groups (1.0 /year; p=<0.001). No other significant differences in contacts with the GPs’ office were found. In the refugee group mental health issues were mentioned significantly less often (N=5; 7,2% of refugees) than in the control group with (N=16; 23.2%) (p=0.016). ADHD/hyperactivity and ADS were diagnosed in 0 refugees compared to 8 (11.6%) controls (p=0.006). No refugee minors were referred to a psychologist/ psychiatrist, whereas there were 10 patients with a referral to a psychologist/psychiatrist in the control group (p=0.001).

Given the low number of mental health problems recorded in refugee minors compared to other minors, it seems likely that these problems are not adequately recognized and discussed by GPs. There were no indications of over-representation of physical complaints that could be an expression of mental health problems.

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