Tortured Refugees' Expectations of a Multidisciplinary Pain Rehabilitation Programme

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Summarized by Sami Monson.

This explorative qualitative interview study was designed to explore tortured refugees’ expectations of the multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation programme offered by the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims in Copenhagen, Denmark. The study examined the expectations of 15 Arabic-speaking men who were tortured refugees from the Middle East and had asylum in Denmark. Expectations were obtained through individual interviews while they waited for rehabilitation following an interdisciplinary assessment. It has been previously shown that positive expectations of treatment outcomes are important predictors rehabilitation success.

Inclusion criteria of this programme included physical, psychological and social needs. These needs often prevent victims of torture from participation and activities of daily life. Based on the patients’ medical records 13 patients carried a PTSD diagnosis. All patients had chronic pain and many had anxiety or depression. Patients also had one or more additional medical diagnoses. (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc.)

Analysis of the study found one main theme with 4 categories. The overall theme was that victims of torture have different expectations of a multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation programme. This theme included with 4 categories: general expectations of the rehabilitation programme; specific expectations of the professional treatment; expectations of mutual participation and communication and expected rehabilitation outcomes.

Overall, general expectations of the rehabilitation programme were positive. Patients trusted professionals to be rehabilitation experts and expected them to take responsibility to improve their health conditions. However, they expected not only to accept but also to question professional suggestions. Specific expectations of professional treatment included the combination of physiotherapeutic, medical, and psychological treatment. Patients expected mutual active participation and communication between themselves and their therapists but they expected to decide for themselves when and how they would participate. Finally with regards to rehabilitation outcomes, expectations were improved physical and psychological health. This included decreased pain and improved health and coping abilities allowing them to achieve mental peace.

The results of this study can be used to develop an overall rehabilitation approach for treating patients of torture.



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