General practitioners are often the first and most accessible medical contact for refugees and humanitarian entrants in Australia. Refugees’ history of trauma has profound effects on their physical and psychological health, ability to settle into Australian life and experience of the GP consultation. General practitioners can have a valuable role in managing both the physical and psychological effects of trauma. A strong therapeutic relationship built with a GP promotes recovery, settlement and trust toward the wider community.
‘Difficult as it is really to listen to someone in affliction,
it is just as difficult for him to know that compassion is
listening to him’.1
The physical and psychosocial effects of trauma in
refugees are wide ranging and long lasting. They can affect
symptom presentation, the patient-doctor relationship and
management of refugee victims of trauma.
This article discusses how refugees survivors of trauma
may present to the general practitioner and gives an
approach to psychological assessment and management.
A strong therapeutic relationship built by patient led,
sensitive assessment over time is the foundation to care. A
management framework based on trauma recovery stages
and adapted for general practice, is presented.
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