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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 255-260

Epidemiological assessment in emergency settings: recommendations for enhancing a potentially useful tool

1 Research Director at the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights
2 Associate Professor of Psychology California State University, Los Angeles

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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The authors identify several factors that have limited the utility of epidemiological assessments in emergency settings, such as a narrow focus on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an inattention to cultural variations in distress, and a failure to distinguish between normal distress reactions and actual disorder. Rather than rejecting epidemiology altogether, however, as the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings do, recommendations are made for ways to enhance the usefulness of large scale mental health and psychosocial assessments in settings of armed conflict and natural disaster.

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