Welfare status and psychosocial adjustment among 100 Hmong refugees

Joseph J Westermeyer, Allan Callies, John Neider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Although the mental health of recently employed persons has been well studied, the mental health of welfare recipients is not well understood. Among our increasing refugee population, many receive welfare benefits at some point. The Hmong are among those who are highly represented among welfare recipients in several areas of the United States. Do psychiatrists have anything to contribute toward the resolution of high welfare rates? This question is especially relevant in refugee populations who are at increased risk for several psychiatric disorders, including depression, paranoia, and adjustment disorders. This study was undertaken among 100 Hmong refugees who had been in the United States for 8 years. Indices of mental health included two rating scales (the Zung Depression Scale and the SCL-90), five-axis DSM-III diagnoses, Hamilton Anxiety and Depression Scales, Global Assessment Scale, Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, Inpatient Multidimensional Scale, and Mini-Mental State Exam. These indices were compared with current welfare status and the duration of time on welfare. Other comparisons with welfare included demographic characteristics, material possessions, acculturation characteristics, health and social problems, and nonoccupation avocations. Results indicate that welfare recipients show lower acculturation and elevated psychiatric symptom levels. Suggestions for ameliorating this situation are extrapolated from studies in the literature on chronically unemployed persons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1990


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