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A brief, culture-specific, self-report screening measure for depression, the Vietnamese Depression Scale, was used to determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms among 1,998 consecutive adult Vietnamese refugees who presented at 10 public health clinics within 2 months of their arrival in the United States. Of these patients, 6% met the criterion for a probable case of depression (“positive”). Being divorced, separated, or widowed and poorly educated were strongly associated with a greater likelihood of screening positive. Somatic complaints were common and induced considerable anxiety about physical health status. Nearly a third of the patients reported sadness and dysphoria; culture-specific symptoms of depression also were prevalent. Our findings document the feasibility of screening for depression using the Vietnamese Depression Scale among Vietnamese refugees, particularly in primary care settings where they are first likely to be seen by health professionals after arrival in their host country.
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