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Table 1 Mental Health Problems in Immigration Detainees: Characteristics of 26 quantitative studies

From: The impact of immigration detention on mental health: a systematic review

Author and year Study Design Sample Country of Origin Country of Study Outcomes of interest Method of assessing outcome
Brabeck & Xu [59] Cross sectional survey N = 132 immigrant parents who accessed immigrant community organisations
Detention Duration: unknown
Various Latin American countries United States Impact of detention / deportation on Latino immigrant families Self-report survey informed by Brabeck et al. [59]
Translated and back translated
Cleveland & Rousseau [38] Cross-sectional, comparison survey N = 122 detained adult asylum seekers, N = 66 non-detained adult asylum seekers
Detention Duration: mean 31.2 days, median 17.5 days
Unknown Canada Anxiety, depression & PTSD HTQ, HSCL-25, modified DEC
Coffey et al. [40] Cross-sectional semi-structured interview and survey N = 17 refugees
Detention Duration: mean 3 years 2 months, range 1.6 – 4.5 years
Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and neighbouring countries Australia Experience of detention
PTSD, depression, anxiety, quality of life
Semi-structured interviews; HSCL-25, HTQ, WHOQOL-Brief
Cohen [50] Data comparison N = 231 self-harm incident reports
N = 12 suicide incident reports from IRCs
N = 38 suicides from coroners and ombudsman reports
Unknown UK Rates of self-harm and suicide Analysis of records, coroner’s files and ombudsman’s reports
Cwikel et al. [37] Cross-sectional, comparison survey N = 47 female brothel workers in detention, N = 55 female brothel workers
Detention Duration: unknown
Former Soviet Union Israel PTSD, depression, somatic symptoms, suicidality PCL, CES-D, constructed scale of physical symptoms, constructed scale of both past trauma and work trauma
Russian speaking psychiatrist
Graf et al. [47] Cross-sectional survey N = 80 males detained for violation of the Swiss Aliens Act
Detention Duration: 4 days
31 different countries Switzerland Prevalence rates of mental health disorders BJMHS, CIDI (clinical psychologist), SCL-90R, subjective mental health questionnaire within 4 days of detention, SCL-90R and self-report again 6 months later where possible
Material professionally translated into several languages
Green & Eager [36] Cross-sectional analysis of health records N = 720
Detention Duration: range 3 – 24 months
58 different countries Australia Estimated incidence rates of new health conditions, new mental health conditions and new injuries for each cohort Health records coded by clinical coder
Hedrick [49] Analysis of incident reports Unknown Unknown Australia Self-harm Self-harm incident reports
Ichikawa et al. [41] Cross-sectional, comparison survey N = 18 former detained asylum seekers, N = 37 non-detained asylum seekers
Accessible through a group of voluntary lawyers representing them and two NGO’s
Detention Duration: median 7 months, range 4 – 10 months
Afghanistan Japan Anxiety, depression, PTSD HSCL-25, HTQ
Translated into Dari and read out to participants by NGO caseworkers
Keller, Rosenfeld et al. [44] Cross-sectional survey N = 70 detained asylum seekers
Detention Duration: median 7 months, range 2 – 42 months
Multiple countries USA Anxiety, depression, PTSD HSCL-25, HTQ (+ two month follow up)
Scales translated by interpreter, interviewed by experienced physician
Lorek et al. [52] Cross-sectional survey N = 11 detained children, N = 9 parents who responded to free legal assistance
Detention Duration: range 11 – 115 days
Multiple Britain Mental and physical health of children held within immigration detention centre Clinical diagnostic interviews, SCAS, DSRS, R-IES-13, SDQ, CORE, observations
Psychologist and paediatricians had all been trained in carrying out cross-cultural assessments and worked regularly with asylum seeking children and families
Mares [54] Secondary analysis of Australian Human Rights Commissions Data Set N = 131 adults and N = 35 completed K10
N = 70 completed SDQ
Detention Duration: mean 8 months, range 90-390 days
Unknown Australia Psychological distress, behavioural difficulties K10, SDQ
Mares & Jureidini [53] Assessment of referrals into CAMHS N = 16 adults, 20 children, 10 families
Detention Duration: mean 1 year 3 months, range 12 – 18 months
Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine Australia Clinical assessment Clinical instrument unknown
Momartin et al. [51] Cross-sectional survey N = 49 former immigration detainees on temporary protection visas and N = 67 granted permanent protection visas
Detention duration: mean 12 months
Unknown Australia PTSD, anxiety, depression, general health, living difficulties and experiences of detention HTQ, HSCL-25, GHQ-30, MOSSF-12, PMDC, DEC
Puthoopparambil et al. [46] Cross-sectional survey N = 127 immigration detainees
Detention Duration: mean 37.8 days
46 different countries Sweden Quality of life WHOQOL-BREF – incl. Six psychological questions
Authorised telephone interpreters (used by 77 participants)
Robjant et al. [11] Cross-sectional, comparison survey N = 67 detained asylum seekers, N = 30 detained former prisoners, N = 49 asylum seekers living in the community
Detention Duration: unknown
Unknown UK PTSD, depression, anxiety HADS, IES-R, PDS
Rojas-Flores [57] Cross sectional comparison survey N = 39 children of detained or deported parents
N = 42 unauthorised no history of detention or deportation
N = 16 Legal permanent resident
Detention Duration: unknown
Mexico or Central America US PTSD, depression, behavioural difficulties, daily functioning UCLA PTSD-RI, CES-DSC, BASC-2 PRS-C, TSCYC-SP, BASC-2 TRS-C, CAFAS
Rothe et al. (2002a) Cross sectional survey N = 74 adolescents
Detention Duration: 4-6 months
Cuba US PTSD, psychological distress PTSDRI, checklist of PTSD symptoms
Rothe et al. (2002b) Cross sectional survey N = 87 adolescents
Detention Duration: mean 6-8 months
Cuba US PTSD, behavioural difficulties PTSDRI, CBCL-TRF
Sen et al. [45] Observational, Cross-sectional N = 101 male detained in immigration removal centre
Detention Duration: unknown
27 different countries UK Neurodevelopmental MINI v6, SAPAS, AQ-10, ASRS, LDSQ, CANFOR
No interpreters
Sobhanian et al. [42] Cross-sectional survery N = 150 former refugee detainees
Detention Duration: mean 11.3 months, range 2 – 21 months
Iran, Afghanistan Australia Psychological status and quality of life T-FAST, QOLI, POMS, SIS
Translated and back translated into Farsi, self report administered under supervision of clinical psychologist
Steel et al. [23] Cross-sectional N = 10 families (14 adults, 20 children) held for in immigration detention for more than two years
Detention Duration: mean 2 years 4 months, range 2 years 2 months – 2 years 8 months
Unknown Australia Psychiatric Status DEC, DSC, K-SADS-PL, SCID-IV, Parenting Questionnaire,
Over the telephone by same language-speaking psychologists with prior professional experience working with refugees
Steel et al. [43] Cross-sectional, comparison survey N = 241 Arabic-speaking Mandaean refugees
Detention Duration: median 6 months
Mainly Iran and Iraq Australia Anxiety, depression & PTSD HTQ, HSCL-25, MOSSF-12, PMLD, DEC, DSC
Translated and back translated by certified Arabic-speaking healthcare interpreter
Steel et al. [39] Longitudinal survey N = 47 former immigration detainees on temporary protection visas and N = 57 granted permanent protection visas attending a state-wide early intervention program in New South Wales
Detention Duration: meadian 8 months, range 1 – 30 months
Iran, Afghanistan Australia Anxiety, depression and PTSD HTQ, HSCL-25, GHQ-30, PSWQ, PMLD
Baseline and 2-year follow up
Measures translated by experienced clinical psychologist fluent in both dialects, and back translated. Interviews undertaken by Fasi / Dari speaking psychologists
Young & Gordon [48] Secondary analysis of Australian Human Rights Commissions Data Set N = 1354 detained refugees, asylum seekers and ‘others’ Unknown Australia PTSD, mental health K10, HTQ, HoNOS, HoNOSCA
Zwi et al. [58] Cross sectional survey N = 48 detained children
N = 38 child asylum seekers in community
Eastern Mediterranean, South East Asia, Pacific, Africa, Stateless origin Australia Behavioural difficulties SDQ
  1. ASRS Adult ADHD Self-Report Scales, AQ-10 Autism-Spectrum Quotient 10, BASC-2 PRS-C Behaviour Assessment System for Children-2nd Edition, Parent Rating Scales-Child, BASC-2 TRS-C Behaviour Assessment System for Children-2nd Edition, Teacher Rating Scales-Child, BJMHS Brief Jail Mental Health Screen, CAFAS Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale, CAMHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, CANFOR Camberwell Assessment of Needs – Forensic Version, CBCL-TRF Child Behavioral Check List – Teachers Report Form, CES-D Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression, CES-DSC Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale for Children, CIDI Composite International Diagnostic Interview, CORE Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation, DEC Detention Experience Checklist, DSC Detention Symptom Checklist, DSRS Birleson Depression Self-Rating Scale, GHQ-30 General Health Questionnaire 30, HADS Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale, HSCL-25 Hopkins Symptoms Checklist 25, HoNOS Health of Nation Outcomes Scale, HoNOSCA Health of Nation Outcomes Scale for Children and Adolescents, HTQ Harvard Trauma Questionnaire, IES-R Impact of Events Scale Revised, K10 Kessler 10, K-SADS-PL Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Aged Children-Present and Life Time Version, LDSQ Learning Disability Screening Questionnaire, MOSSF-12Medical Outcomes Study – Short Form, MINI v6 Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview v6.0, NGO Non-governmental Organisation, PCL PTSD checklist, PDS Posttraumatic diagnostic scale, PMDC Post Migration Difficulties Checklist, PMLD – Post-migration living difficulties and detention experiences checklist, POMS Profile of Mood States, PSWQ Penn State Worry Questionnaire, PTSDRI Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index, QOLI Quality of Life Inventory, R-IES-13 Revised Impact of Events Scale-13, SAPAS Standardized Assessment of Personality Abbreviated Scale, SCAS Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale, SCID-IV Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders, SCL-90-R Symptoms Checklist-90-R, SDQ Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, SIS Suicide Ideation Scale, T-FAST Truncated Firestone Assessment of Self destructive Thoughts, TSCYC-SP Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children – Spanish Version, UCLA PTSD-RI UCLA Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index, WHOQOL-Brief World Health Organisation Quality of Life Short Version