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January 5, 2000

Mental Health Among Bosnian Refugees

Author Affiliations

Phil B.FontanarosaMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorMargaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorStephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Fishbein FellowIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;283(1):55-56. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-283-1-jbk0500

To the Editor: Dr Mollica and colleagues1 concluded that their survey of Bosnian refugees supports the "ubiquitousness of comorbid psychiatric illness in traumatized refugees," and they attribute substantial disability to these psychiatric conditions.

These conclusions are premature. The authors' assumption that refugee status is inherently traumatic is unwarranted. While flight from one's home is undoubtedly distressing, it is not possible to assume that all respondents experienced or witnessed events that threatened their physical integrity. Given the thin descriptions on the checklist, many of the specific ostensibly traumatic events that were endorsed by respondents might not have been judged traumatic in an interview in which respondents' accounts of the events could be elaborated.

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