Using eco-map to explore the social network of Ukrainian refugees as a determinant of mental well-being: a pilot study
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University of Verona, Italy
Malve di Ucraina NPO, Italy
Unità Locale Socio Sanitaria (ULSS) 9, Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1345
Following the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, an estimated 7,710,924 refugees have fled (19 October 2022). Refugee status leads to a higher prevalence of mental illness, also driven by the process of settling into a new environment. Ecomap is a valuable tool used in qualitative health research. It makes it possible to visualize social relashioships’ distribution, quantity, and quality. This study aims to analyze the association between mental health and the social network of Ukrainian refugees. We conducted a pilot study on Ukrainian refugees housed in Verona administration (Italy). Mental well-being was assessed through the International Trauma Questionnaire (ITQ) and the General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12). The social network was explored through a semi-structured ecomap. The study sample sex distribution was 24(96%) females and 1 (4%) male. Median age was 37.0[IQR 29.9-47.2] years. At the GHQ-12, 11(50%) scored as having a severe and 5(23%) as having mild mental health deterioration. Regarding the ITQ, 4(16%) individuals scored positive for PTSD and 5(20%) for complex-PTSD. The highest number of supportive links was found in the micro-system, with a median number of 3.0 (IQR 2.0-4.7). Supportive links were significantly higher in the micro-system compared to both the exo- (z=-3.2, p=0.002) and macro-system (z=4.3, p<0.001). The highest number of stressful links was found in the macro-system and was significantly higher compared to the micro-system (z=2.7, p=0.01). Supportive links in patients with severe and mild mental health deterioration were 4.0[3.3-5.0] and 10.0[4.0-10.0]. The median number of supportive links in patients with complex-PTSD, PTSD, or none was 4.0[4.0-4.0], 7.0[4.5-10.0], and 5.0[4.0-10.0], respectively. Stressful links were more frequent, while supportive links were less, among individuals with complex-PTSD or a severe mental health disorder. The eco-map proved to be a useful tool for exploring the social network of refugees.