Somali and Oromo Refugees: Correlates of Torture and Trauma History

James M. Jaranson, James Butcher, Linda Halcon, David Robert Johnson, Cheryl Robertson, Kay Savik, Marline Spring, Joseph Westermeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


Objectives. This cross-sectional, community-based, epidemiological study characterized Somali and Ethiopian (Oromo) refugees in Minnesota to determine torture prevalence and associated problems. Methods. A comprehensive questionnaire was developed, then administered by trained ethnic interviewers to a nonprobability sample of 1134. Measures assessed torture techniques; traumatic events; and social, physical, and psychological problems, including posttraumatic stress symptoms. Results. Torture prevalence ranged from 25% to 69% by ethnicity and gender, higher than usually reported. Unexpectedly, women were tortured as often as men. Torture survivors had more health problems, including posttraumatic stress. Conclusions. This study highlights the need to recognize torture in African refugees, especially women, identify indicators of posttraumatic stress in torture survivors, and provide additional resources to care for tortured refugees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-598
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


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