War trauma experience and behavioral screening of Bosnian refugee children resettled in Massachusetts

Paul L. Geltman, Marilyn Augustyn, Elizabeth D. Barnett, Perri E. Klass, Betsy Mc Alister Groves

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The authors assessed war violence exposure and behavioral symptoms in Bosnian refugee children in Massachusetts and the utility of behavioral screening of refugees during the Refugee Health Assessment (RHA), required of newly arrived refugees. The study was a survey of 31 Bosnian refugee children in 1996 at the International Clinic of Boston Medical Center, the state's largest contracted provider of the RHA. Subjects were also offered referrals to appropriate mental health services. Sixty-eight percent experienced long-term separation from a parent. Eighty-one percent were directly exposed to armed combat. Seventy-one percent experienced the death of a close friend or relative. Fifty-two percent experienced economic deprivation. Families reported behavioral symptoms for 77% of children. Only one family expressed interest in psychosocial services of any kind. Large numbers of Bosnian refugees are likely to have experienced traumatic war violence and are at risk of behavioral symptoms. The RHA affords opportunities to screen for behavioral problems but not to intervene. Primary care providers and other clinicians should be aware of likely recurrences of symptoms in high-risk children such as these.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)255-261
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Aug 2000


    • Bosnia
    • Children
    • Mental health
    • Refugees
    • War trauma

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health


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