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Abstract Mylène Gorissen (2020)

Refugee children are at increased risk of psychosocial problems due to forced migration experiences and adaptation to their new circumstances. There are indications that these problems are underdiagnosed and undertreated.  Child health professionals, social workers, and general practitioners are in the front line of caring for these children. Insight in their experiences concerning recognizing and guiding refugee children with psychosocial problems can help to improve care for refugee parents and their children.

Ten online semi-structured interviews were conducted with child health professionals and social workers. Participants were purposively and conveniently sampled until theoretical data saturation was reached. Inductive coding and thematic analysis were applied.

The most important barriers in recognizing and guiding refugee children with psychosocial problems were refugees’ limited understanding and mistrust of Dutch healthcare and therefore not willing to talk about psychosocial problems, limited time of professionals, and linguistic barriers. Trust and building relationship were facilitating. Most child health professionals and general practitioners cooperated little and exchanged little information.

Child health professionals and social workers experienced difficulties in their work with psychosocial problems in refugee children, that may be overcome by careful explanation of the Dutch healthcare system, multiple face-to-face consultations, and adopting a cultural sensitive attitude in order to build a trusting relationship. Regular information exchange between all professionals might contribute to better care and a holistic approach of psychosocial problems in refugee children.

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