Assessing trauma and mental health in refugee children and youth: a systematic review of validated screening and measurement tools

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Nine articles were reviewed to assess validated screening and measurement tools for trauma and mental health in refugee children and youth. Results noted a significant lack of validated trauma and mental health tools, especially for children under the age of 6.

Estimates suggest that children below 18 years constitute 50% of the refugee population worldwide. As children are continuously exposed to traumatic events, questionnaires and interview guides have been used extensively within the field, despite their lack of evidence for refugee children. Only nine studies were identified to have validated trauma and mental health tools in refugee children and youth populations. For PTSD, the identified child-specific scales included the Child Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Scale Interview format, Reaction of Adolescents to Traumatic Stress questionnaire, the UCLA PTSD Index for DSM-IV, the Post-traumatic Stress Symptoms in Children and the Impact of Event Scale. The tools were administered as either a written questionnaire (n=6), a semi-structured interview guide (n=1), or a structured interview (n=2). The results showed a significant lack of use of validated tools, particularly for children under the age of six. Further mental health research must be conducted in specific to refugee children and youth.

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