Amesh K. Shrestha and Zeliha Özlü-Erkilic have contributed equally to this paper.
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The symptoms following a traumatic event as well as the coping strategies can be culture specific. The objective of the present study was to analyse the transcultural differences of psychologically traumatized children and adolescents with and without migration background.
The medical files of 199 psychologically traumatized children and adolescents (99 native Austrian, 100 Turkish-speaking) who were treated at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Vienna were retrospectively analysed.
The most frequently observed causes of trauma in patients with Turkish migration background were intra-familial conflicts, forced separation from parent(s), and conforming to a new environment. In native Austrian patients, forced separation from parent(s) and divorce or separation of parents were the leading causes of trauma. Trauma-related symptoms like changed mood, cognitive and perceptual disturbance, social withdrawal, sleeping problems, somatisation and behavioural problems were similarly observed in both groups; “sleeping problems” were more often observed in Austrian patients, and “behavioural problems” were more often observed in Turkish patients. More Austrian patients (32.7%) obtained psychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatment. Turkish-speaking patients mostly obtained psychiatric treatment only. Patients with migration background were more compliant compared to indigenous patients.
Both study groups differed in type, causes and symptoms of trauma, and in preferred therapy. Turkish-speaking patients were more compliant with therapy, as they received culture and language-sensitive medical advice and treatment in their mother tongue. Considering the cultural background of patients can optimize service delivery and therapy outcomes among children and adolescents with stressful and traumatic experiences.