Content » Vol 41, Issue 9

Special report

Rehabilitating torture survivors

Bengt H. Sjölund, Marianne Kastrup, Edith Montgomery, Ann L. Persson
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0426


Refugees have often been exposed to torture in their countries of origin. A core issue is the resulting multifaceted presentation of somatic, psychological and social problems in the same individual, leading to severe activity limitations and participation restrictions. An international conference,
“Rehabilitating Torture Survivors”, was organized by the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (a rehabilitation clinic and global knowledge and research centre with government support) in collaboration with the Centre for Transcultural Psychiatry at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2008. The main topics were: the context of torture; mental problems including psychotherapy; internet-based therapy and pharmaco­therapy; chronic pain; social integration and family; and functioning and rehabilitation. Available evidence highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to rehabilitation, but scientifically rigorous studies of comprehensive rehabilitation programmes for torture survivors are lacking. Therefore, effect studies are urgently warranted. Nevertheless, by combining expertise from different scientific and professional areas, important elements in the problems of torture survivors can be addressed from an evidence base generated both from traumatized and non-traumatized patient populations. Thus, trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy and/or eye movement
desensitization and reprocessing, as well as interdisciplinary pain rehabilitation, should be components of a success­ful rehabilitation process, and great attention should be paid to contextual components.

Lay Abstract


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