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Med J Aust 2002; 177 (8): 457.
Published online: 21 October 2002

While research published in this issue of the MJA reveals largely good mental health among Vietnamese children living in Perth, a Sydney-based study has found that their adult counterparts are also faring well. Interviews with 1161 Vietnamese migrants who had lived in Australia for a mean of 11.2 years revealed that most (60%) had suffered some kind of pre-migration exposure to traumatic events, such as a lack of food or water, life-threatening situations, imprisonment or violence. Overall, only 95 participants (8%) had mental disorders as defined by ICD-10 and 75 participants (7%) had mental disorders according to a psychiatric scale developed specifically for use with Vietnamese people. Post-traumatic stress was the most common diagnosis (4%), followed by major depression (3%). The length of time since the most significant traumatic event and the total number of traumatic events both played a role in current psychiatric illness. Thus, for one to two traumatic events, only those affected less than four years ago were at increased risk (OR 6.3, compared with no trauma), while those reporting three or more traumatic events were still at increased risk 10 years later (OR 4.7).



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