Author(s): Barbara Chester, PhD and Neal Holton, MPH

Date Authored: September 1, 1992

EthnoMed has been granted permission from the Western Journal of Medicine to provide the following article from their journal on our website. This material may be protected by Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S. Code).

We are grateful to the Western Journal of Medicine for their cooperation and willingness to make this information available to the EthnoMed audience.


Numerous factors must be taken into account to best provide for the health and well-being of refugee patients in developed countries. One issue that is rarely considered is the awful and not uncommon occurrence of political torture. Large numbers of refugees and other displaced persons are survivors of political torture, and health care professionals must be prepared for this possibility when treating refugee patients. The effects of torture are pervasive, and we provide some practical considerations for health professionals who care for survivors of torture. Specific challenges include problems relating to exile and resettlement, somatic symptoms and pain, and the “medicalization” of torture sequelae.

multicolored rural clinic
Photo by Center for Victims of Torture (cc license).