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Long-term effectiveness of Self-Help Plus in refugees and asylum seekers resettled in Western Europe: 12-month outcomes of a randomised controlled trial

Turrini, G, Purgato, M, Tedeschi, F, Acartürk, C, Anttila, M, Au, T, Carswell, K, Churchill, R, Cuijpers, P, Friedrich, F, Gastaldon, C, Klein, T, Kösters, M, Lantta, T ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7715-7573, Nosè, M, Ostuzzi, G, Papola, D, Popa, M, Sijbrandij, M, Tarsitani, L, Todini, L, Uygun, E, Välimäki, M, Walker, L, Wancata, J, White, RG, Zanini, E, Van Ommeren, M and Barbui, C (2022) Long-term effectiveness of Self-Help Plus in refugees and asylum seekers resettled in Western Europe: 12-month outcomes of a randomised controlled trial. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 31. e39-e39. ISSN 2045-7979

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Abstract

Aims: As refugees and asylum seekers are at high risk of developing mental disorders, we assessed the effectiveness of Self-Help Plus (SH +), a psychological intervention developed by the World Health Organization, in reducing the risk of developing any mental disorders at 12-month follow-up in refugees and asylum seekers resettled in Western Europe. Methods: Refugees and asylum seekers with psychological distress (General Health Questionnaire-12 ≥ 3) but without a mental disorder according to the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.) were randomised to either SH + or enhanced treatment as usual (ETAU). The frequency of mental disorders at 12 months was measured with the M.I.N.I., while secondary outcomes included self-identified problems, psychological symptoms and other outcomes. Results: Of 459 participants randomly assigned to SH + or ETAU, 246 accepted to be interviewed at 12 months. No difference in the frequency of any mental disorders was found (relative risk [RR] = 0.841; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.389-1.819; p-value = 0.659). In the per protocol (PP) population, that is in participants attending at least three group-based sessions, SH + almost halved the frequency of mental disorders at 12 months compared to ETAU, however so few participants and events contributed to this analysis that it yielded a non-significant result (RR = 0.528; 95% CI 0.180-1.544; p-value = 0.230). SH + was associated with improvements at 12 months in psychological distress (p-value = 0.004), depressive symptoms (p-value = 0.011) and wellbeing (p-value = 0.001). Conclusions: The present study failed to show any long-term preventative effect of SH + in refugees and asylum seekers resettled in Western European countries. Analysis of the PP population and of secondary outcomes provided signals of a potential effect of SH + in the long-term, which would suggest the value of exploring the effects of booster sessions and strategies to increase SH + adherence.

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