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Non-clinicians' judgments about asylum seekers' mental health: how do legal representatives of asylum seekers decide when to request medico-legal reports?

Wilson-Shaw L, Pistrang N, Herlihy J - Eur J Psychotraumatol (2012)

Bottom Line: The resultant material was analysed using Framework Analysis.The legal representatives interviewed were well-informed and trained in psychological issues as well as clearly dedicated to their clients.The study has implications for other groups - particularly those less trained and compassionate - who are required to make clinical judgments without the necessary expertise.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.

ABSTRACT

Background: Procedures for determining refugee status across Europe are being speeded up, despite the high prevalence of mental health difficulties among asylum seekers. An assurance given is that ''vulnerable applicants'' will be identified and excluded from accelerated procedures. Although experts have recommended assessments to be undertaken by experienced clinicians, this is unlikely to happen for political and financial reasons. Understanding how non-clinically qualified personnel perform assessments of mental health issues is timely and crucial. Misrecognition of refugees due to the inappropriate use of accelerated procedures involves the risk of returning the very people who have the right to protection from further persecution.

Objective: To examine the decision making of immigration lawyers, who are an example of a group of nonclinicians who decide when and whether to refer asylum-seekers for psychiatric assessment.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 legal representatives working with people seeking refugee or human rights protection in the United Kingdom. The resultant material was analysed using Framework Analysis.

Results: Themes clustered around the legal case, the client, the representative and the systems, all with sub-themes. A mapping exercise integrated these themes to show how representatives brought together questions of (1) evidential reasons for a report, influenced by their legal, psychological and case law knowledge, and (2) perceived evidence of mental distress, influenced by professional and personal experiences and expectations.

Conclusions: The legal representatives interviewed were well-informed and trained in psychological issues as well as clearly dedicated to their clients. This helped them to attempt quasi-diagnoses of common mental health problems. They nonetheless demonstrated stereotypical understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder and other possible diagnoses and the role of subjectivity. The study has implications for other groups - particularly those less trained and compassionate - who are required to make clinical judgments without the necessary expertise.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Mapping of the decision to refer a client for a medico-legal (psychological) report.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Figure 0001: Mapping of the decision to refer a client for a medico-legal (psychological) report.

Mentions: The “mapping” stage of the analysis integrated these themes to capture the process of decision-making. A visual representation of this is presented in Fig. 1.


Non-clinicians' judgments about asylum seekers' mental health: how do legal representatives of asylum seekers decide when to request medico-legal reports?

Wilson-Shaw L, Pistrang N, Herlihy J - Eur J Psychotraumatol (2012)

Mapping of the decision to refer a client for a medico-legal (psychological) report.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3475000&req=5

Figure 0001: Mapping of the decision to refer a client for a medico-legal (psychological) report.
Mentions: The “mapping” stage of the analysis integrated these themes to capture the process of decision-making. A visual representation of this is presented in Fig. 1.

Bottom Line: The resultant material was analysed using Framework Analysis.The legal representatives interviewed were well-informed and trained in psychological issues as well as clearly dedicated to their clients.The study has implications for other groups - particularly those less trained and compassionate - who are required to make clinical judgments without the necessary expertise.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.

ABSTRACT

Background: Procedures for determining refugee status across Europe are being speeded up, despite the high prevalence of mental health difficulties among asylum seekers. An assurance given is that ''vulnerable applicants'' will be identified and excluded from accelerated procedures. Although experts have recommended assessments to be undertaken by experienced clinicians, this is unlikely to happen for political and financial reasons. Understanding how non-clinically qualified personnel perform assessments of mental health issues is timely and crucial. Misrecognition of refugees due to the inappropriate use of accelerated procedures involves the risk of returning the very people who have the right to protection from further persecution.

Objective: To examine the decision making of immigration lawyers, who are an example of a group of nonclinicians who decide when and whether to refer asylum-seekers for psychiatric assessment.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 legal representatives working with people seeking refugee or human rights protection in the United Kingdom. The resultant material was analysed using Framework Analysis.

Results: Themes clustered around the legal case, the client, the representative and the systems, all with sub-themes. A mapping exercise integrated these themes to show how representatives brought together questions of (1) evidential reasons for a report, influenced by their legal, psychological and case law knowledge, and (2) perceived evidence of mental distress, influenced by professional and personal experiences and expectations.

Conclusions: The legal representatives interviewed were well-informed and trained in psychological issues as well as clearly dedicated to their clients. This helped them to attempt quasi-diagnoses of common mental health problems. They nonetheless demonstrated stereotypical understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder and other possible diagnoses and the role of subjectivity. The study has implications for other groups - particularly those less trained and compassionate - who are required to make clinical judgments without the necessary expertise.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus