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Open Access Research article

Comparative study of mental health and quality of life in long term refugees and host populations in Oru-Ijebu, Southwest Nigeria

Oluwaseun O Akinyemi1*, Eme T Owoaje2, Olusimbo K Ige1 and Oluwafemi A Popoola1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Medicine, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria

2 Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:394  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-394

Published: 31 July 2012



Refugees as “People Living in Highly Stressful Situation” are particularly vulnerable to mental ill-health as a result of the trauma experienced pre- and post-migration. The lack of information on the mental health disparities of refugees and non-refugees in West Africa is what this study aimed to bridge.

A cross-sectional study design was employed using a cluster sampling technique. Interviewer-administered structured questionnaires consisting of the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI), WHO quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF) and the Community Quality of Life (CQoL) were used for data collection. Data were analyzed with SPSS version 17. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the predictors of mental health status and QoL.


Respondents consisted of 444(45.7%) refugees and 527(54.3%) non-refugees. Two-thirds 292 (66%) of the refugees were Liberians. Mean age: refugees - 34.8 ± 12.8 years versus non-refugees - 33.3 ± 8.1 years (p < 0.05). While the majority 376(84.7%) of the refugees were married, most 468(88.8%) of the native population were not (p < 0.001). Significantly higher proportion of refugees had polygamous marriages, lived in poorer type of accommodation and had no formal education compared to the non-refugees (p < 0.05). The overall QoL and CQoL scores were both significantly lower for the refugees (p < 0.001). Refugees were three times more likely than non-refugees to have poor mental health [OR: 3.43; 95%CI: 1.83-6.40]. Overall, being currently ill tripled the odds of mental ill health [OR: 2.73; 95%CI: 1.98-3.77]. Unskilled workers [OR: 2.78; 95%CI: 1.68-4.60], skilled workers [OR: 2.98; 95%CI: 2.03-4.38] and the unemployed [OR: 1.94; 95%CI: 1.29-2.92] had two or more times the odds of poor mental health compared to professionals.


QoL and occupational status were the major threats to the mental health of the refugees. Results of this study point to the need for continued attention to not only the healthcare needs but the welfare, housing, employment and overall QoL to support the long-term mental health of refugees and non-refugee populations alike.

Mental health; Quality of Life; Refugees; Nigeria