Prevalence of pain in the head, back and feet in refugees previously exposed to torture: a ten-year follow-up study.
Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT), Copenhagen, Denmark. firstname.lastname@example.org
AIM: To estimate change over 10 years concerning the prevalence of pain in the head, back and feet, among previously tortured refugees settled in Denmark, and to compare associations between methods of torture and prevalent pain at baseline and at 10-year follow-up. METHODS: 139 refugees previously exposed to torture in their home country were interviewed at a Danish rehabilitation clinic on average 8 years after their final release from confinement and re-interviewed 10 years later. Interviews focused on history of exposure to physical and mental torture and on pain in the head, back and feet prevalent at study. RESULTS: The mean number of times imprisoned was 2.5 and the mean cumulative duration of imprisonment 19.4 months. The most frequent physical torture method reported was beating (95.0%) and the main mental torture method deprivation (88.5%). Pain reported at follow-up was strongly associated with pain reported at baseline, and the prevalence of pain increased considerably (pain in the head, 47.5% at baseline and 58.3% at follow-up; back, 48.2% and 75.5%; feet, 23.7% and 63.3%). Predictor patterns at baseline and at follow-up had common traits, so that pain in the head and pain in the feet both were associated with the number of torture methods as well as specific methods, both at baseline and at follow-up. Pain in the back at baseline was associated with torture. CONCLUSION: Two decades after the torture took place, increasing proportions of survivors seem to suffer from pain associated with the type and bodily focus of the torture. This presents a considerable challenge to future evidence-based development of effective treatment programs.
PMID: 17364766 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]