Journal of Public Health (United Kingdom)

The impact of forced displacement: trauma, increased levels of inflammation and early presentation of diabetes in women Syrian refugees

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Background Forced displacement and war trauma cause high rates of post-traumatic stress, anxiety disorders and depression in refugee populations. We investigated the impact of forced displacement on mental health status, gender, presentation of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and associated inflammatory markers among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Methods Mental health status was assessed using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ) and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 (HSCL-25). Additional metabolic and inflammatory markers were analyzed. Results Although symptomatic stress scores were observed in both men and women, women consistently displayed higher symptomatic anxiety/depression scores with the HSCL-25 (2.13 ± 0.58 versus 1.95 ± 0.63). With the HTQ, however, only women aged 35–55 years displayed symptomatic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) scores (2.18 ± 0.43). Furthermore, a significantly higher prevalence of obesity, prediabetes and undiagnosed T2D were observed in women participants (23.43, 14.91 and 15.18%, respectively). Significantly high levels of the inflammatory marker serum amyloid A were observed in women (11.90 ± 11.27 versus 9.28 ± 6.93, P = 0.036). Conclusions Symptomatic PTSD, anxiety/depression coupled with higher levels of inflammatory marker and T2D were found in refugee women aged between 35 and 55 years favoring the strong need for psychosocial therapeutic interventions in moderating stress-related immune dysfunction and development of diabetes in this subset of female Syrian refugees.