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Abstract Mursal Latify (2019)

The outflow of refugees to the Netherlands reached a peak in the year 2015; among them a lot of children. The majority of these children seems resilient and is able to adapt to their new environment. Yet, a small part is developing psychosocial problems. Previous studies have described how these problems manifest within these children, for example through behavioural problems. However, it is unknown to what extent refugees experience and recognize psychosocial problems within children. It is also unknown what they expect or want from their general practitioner, the first point of entrance to healthcare, including mental health care, in the Netherlands. Insight into these experiences and wishes can help to adjust the general practitioner’s care to the needs of refugee parents and children with psycho-social problems.

For this qualitative study, fifteen semi-structured in depth interviews were conducted with refugees aged 20-66 years from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria, Iran, Armenia and Vietnam. Participants were recruited by a purposeful sampling technique and inclusion went on until theoretical data saturation was reached. Thematic analysis was led by an inductive coding process.

Participants told they recognize psychosocial problems in children through changed behaviour and social interaction. According to them, underlying reasons are mostly trauma and the language barrier. The first step towards professional health care would be through the general practitioner. However, limiting factors for consulting the general practitioner mentioned were a lack of knowledge about the Dutch health care system and the language barrier during a consultation. They suggested general practitioners to organise a first acquaintance consultation with refugees to get to know them. Besides, they suggested educating refugees about psychosocial problems in children, favourably with the help of an interpreter.

According to our study, refugees seem to recognise psychosocial problems in children and are aware that the general practitioner is the first health care professional to consult. However, there are important barriers to consult the general practitioner, most of which could be resolved.

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