Many European countries have seen an abrupt increase in terrorist threats over the last years. In 2017, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) annual Global Trends report, 68.5 million people were uprooted worldwide from their homes by conflict and persecution. The demand for mental healthcare among people fleeing war and persecution can only grow, and the WHO recommends specific training for mental health care professionals. In 2017, an online cross-sectional survey was designed by the European Federation of Psychiatric Trainees (EFPT) Psychiatry Across Borders Working Group to survey psychiatric trainees regarding their current knowledge about acute trauma prevention and experience and knowledge of issues related to the mental health of forcibly displaced people (FDP), distributed via local trainee networks using e-mail. Respondents (n=408) from 33 European countries answered the survey, 64% female, mean age 30 years old (SD: 4.6); the mean duration of psychiatric training was 32 months (SD: 19.4). The majority (72%) of the trainees (n=294) had had contact with FDPs in the last 12 months as part of their clinical work. Three quarters (75%) expressed a strong interest in the issue of refugees’ mental health, but only 34.5% felt confident assessing and treating mental health disorders in this population. Concerningly, 39% of trainees recommended immediate debriefing following trauma (recognised to be harmful), and one quarter of respondents incorrectly agreed that benzodiazepines were effective in preventing PTSD when given during the “golden hours” immediately following trauma. This survey demonstrates a lack of knowledge by psychiatric trainees about evidence-based treatments in the golden hours, and a clear unmet need for specific training regarding intervention at this time.
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