This study aimed to (1) identify the trajectories of prescribed antidepressants in refugee youth and matched Swedish-born peers diagnosed with common mental disorder (CMD) and (2) characterize the trajectories according to sociodemographic and medical factors.
The study population comprised 2,198 refugees and 12,199 Swedish-born individuals with both Swedish-born parents, aged 16–25 years in 2011, residing in Sweden and treated in specialised healthcare for CMD 2009–11. Group-based trajectory modelling was used to identify different trajectory groups of antidepressant use-based on annual defined daily dosages (DDDs). Multinomial logistic regression was applied to investigate the association of sociodemographic and medical characteristics with the identified trajectories. Nagelkerke pseudo-R2 values were estimated to evaluate the strength of these associations.
Four trajectory groups of antidepressant use among young refugees were identified with following proportions and DDD levels in 2011: ‘low constant’ (88%, < 100), ‘low increasing’ (2%, ≈710), ‘medium decreasing’ (8%, ≈170) and ‘high increasing’ (2%, ≈860). Similar trajectories, however, with different proportions were identified in Swedish-born: 67%, 7%, 21% and 5%, respectively. The most influential factors discriminating the trajectory groups among refugees were ‘duration of stay in Sweden’ (R2 = 0.013), comorbid ‘other mental disorders’ (R2 = 0.009) and ‘disability pension’ (R2 = 0.007), while ‘disability pension’ (R2 = 0.017), comorbid ‘other mental disorders’ (R2 = 0.008) and ‘educational level’ (R2 = 0.008) were the most important determinants discriminating trajectory groups among Swedish-born youth.
The lower use of antidepressants in refugees with CMDs compared to their Swedish-born counterparts warrants health literacy programs for refugees and training in transcultural psychiatry for healthcare professionals.