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  • 1. Berhardsson, J
    et al.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Flykt, Anders
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Visual search with schematic faces: Perceptual artifactsManuscript (Other academic)
  • 2.
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Champoux-Larsson, Marie-France
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Palmius, Joel
    PUPIL - A tool for creating and conducting online distributed experimental paradigms2017Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 3.
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Esteves, Francisco
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    INDEPENDENT COMPONENT ANALYSIS OF N2pc DURING FEAR PROCESSING2013In: Psychophysiology, ISSN 0048-5772, E-ISSN 1469-8986, Vol. 50, p. S119-S119Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 4.
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Esteves, Francisco
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Make no mistake: You are being watched2017Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 5.
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Changes in Event Related Potentials after exposure therapy for spider phobic individuals2016In: International Journal of Psychophysiology, ISSN 0167-8760, E-ISSN 1872-7697, Vol. 108, p. 105-106Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The present study was conducted in order to investigate treatment effects in spider phobic individuals on EEG and eye movements. A previous study has shown larger ERP amplitudes in the late positive complex (LPC) post treatment compared to pre treatment during exposure of spider pictures (Leutgeb, Schäfer, & Schienle, 2009). The authors hypothesize that the result might mirror an increase in attention towards the stimuli and reduced attentional avoidance generating enhanced LPC amplitude as a consequence of directing attention to the spider pictures post treatment. In the present study spider fearful individuals (treatment and waitlist group) and control individuals were measured with EEG and Eye tracking during exposure to pictures of spiders, snakes and flowers pre and post treatment. Based on behavioral and self-assessed measures treatment effects were high. Contrary to Leutgeb et al. (2009), our results showed relatively smaller LPC amplitudes post treatment during presentations of spider pictures. Moreover, the eye movement data indicated no avoidance from spider pictures compared to other pictures, neither pre nor post treatment. These results indicate that when individuals attend to visual threat stimuli, LPC amplitude differences follow the pattern of emotional significance and attention allocation.

  • 6.
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Top Down Modulation Despite Fear, Shown By Behavioral and Electrophysiological Activity2018Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 7.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    FEAR - A process influenced by concurrent processing demands2013Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Fear is a central aspect in mammalian evolution, prompting escape from and avoidance of threat and dangers. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that we have a well developed system to detect dangers and quickly respond to them. It has been shown that threatening information has an advantage in information processing; it seems to promote a rapid capture of selective attention and puts demand on processing resources. It has been suggested that the elicitation of fear occurs automatically, and that it is independent of and impenetrable to cognition.

    The idea with the present research is that fear processing is dependent on all concurrent internal or external processing demands. One visual search study (Study II) and two secondary task studies (Study I & III) have been conducted to investigate if external or internal distraction can interfere with fear processing. In order to provoke fear responses, spider or snake fearful individuals have been exposed to pictures of their feared stimulus. The aim of Study II was to investigate if the selective attention to fear stimuli could be influenced by contextual factors, such as the nature of the distracting stimuli in a visual search. Study I and III aimed to investigate manipulation of resources allocated to fear stimuli. In Study I, task demand was used as the manipulation, and in Study III an internal cognitive directive was used. The results from these studies indicate that fear is susceptible to manipulation by both external and internal means. By changing circumstances in the surrounding or in the individuals’ internal states, responses to threatening stimuli can be altered. This means that processing of threatening stimuli is influenced by other concurrent processing demands, suggesting that a fear response is not occurring as an isolated and impenetrable process. In an evolutionary perspective, a fear system that is easily triggered but has access to cognitive evaluation at all times ought to be far more flexible, thus creating a better chance for survival than a modular and impenetrable fear system.

  • 8.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Finns det genvägar för bearbetning av hotstimuli2007Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [sv]

    För att undersöka resursallokering av processresurser vid informations-bearbetning av hotstimuli har ett ”Dual Task” experiment utförts med spindelrädda försöksdeltagare. Uppgiften bestod av att respondera på olika probe-stimuli som exponerades, direkt på bilder av olika djur (däribland spindlar), med olika tidsintervall. Latens och träffsäkerhet mättes, för ett mått på prestation, och EKG användes för att kontrollera att spindel-bilderna faktiskt utlöste rädsloresponser. Resultaten visar att större processresurser allokerades till spindelbilderna jämfört med alla de övriga bildkategorierna, men att denna differentiering inte verkar ske innan en kognitivt kontrollerad bearbetning och utvärdering av stimulus ägt rum. När uppgiften krävde mer resurser minskade de fysiologiska responserna, vilket indikerar att en variation i den kognitiva belastningen kan modifiera rädsloresponsen.

  • 9.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Eye movements and Event Related Potentials before and after treatment of spider fear2016Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 10.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Ekström, Johan
    Tedgård, Tomas
    Flykt, Anders
    Högskolan i Gävle.
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Threat of threat changes processing of fear-relevant stimuli2010Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 11. Bjärtå, Anna
    et al.
    Bernhardsson, Jensbe
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Eriksson, L.
    Flykt, Anders
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Potenial biological threats, fear, and perceptual factors.2005Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 12.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Flykt, Anders
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Concurrent cognitive demands influence allocation of attention resources during fear processing.Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Influences of a concurrent cognitive demand on allocation of attentional resources and physiological responses to threatening stimuli was investigated. In two secondary task experiments, pictures of fear-relevant and fear-irrelevant stimuli (Experiment 1), as well as feared and non-feared stimuli (Experiment 2), were used as backgrounds in a discrimination task. The cognitive manipulation was provided by a constraint, induced with a threat of punishment motivating participants to respond quick and accurately. The control condition imposed no such constraint. Results showed a larger allocation of attentional resources for both fear-relevant and feared stimuli. More importantly, it was also shown that resources allocated to threatening stimuli could be manipulated by a concurrent cognitive demand. However, both response accuracy and physiological reactions persisted the manipulation when a feared versus a non-feared animal was shown, indicating that attentional resources can be manipulated by an internal cognitive demand even though a fear reaction occurs.

  • 13.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Flykt, Anders
    Department of Social Work and Psychology, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, University of Gävle, Sweden .
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    The effect of using different distractor sets in visual search with spiders and snakes on spider-sensitive and non-fearful participants.2013In: Swiss Journal of Psychology, ISSN 1421-0185, E-ISSN 1662-0879, Vol. 72, no 4, p. 171-179Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In two visual search experiments, the impact of distractor sets on fear relevant stimuli was investigated.  A search set with spiders, snakes, flowers, and mushrooms was compared to a search set with spiders, snakes, rabbits, and turtles. Speeded responses to spider and snake targets were found when flowers and mushrooms served as distractors, but no such effect occurred with rabbit and turtle distractors. In Experiment 2, spider sensitive individuals were compared to non-fearful individuals. Spider sensitive individuals responded faster to spider targets than did non-fearful individuals, but only in the set with flowers and mushrooms.  When using rabbit and turtle distractors, spider sensitive individuals did not show any speeded responses to their feared animal. These results indicate that behavioural expressions of the visual search task depends not only on the individual’s relationship to the stimuli included in a search set, but also on the context in which feared or fear relevant objects are presented.

  • 14.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Leiler, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Ekdahl, Johanna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Wasteson, Elisabet
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Assessing Severity of Psychological Distress Among Refugees With the Refugee Health Screener, 13-Item Version2018In: Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, ISSN 0022-3018, E-ISSN 1539-736X, Vol. 206, no 11, p. 834-839Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The recent inflow of refugees to Sweden has put pressure on health care as well as revealing a need for methods regarding assessment of refugees' mental health status. The present study investigated the use of the Refugee Health Screener (RHS; Hollifield et al., 2013) to distinguish among severity levels of symptoms of psychological distress in refugees. Refugees residing in asylum accommodations (n = 510) were screened with RHS-13, together with screeners for depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Risk for mild, moderate, or severe levels of depression, anxiety, or/and PTSD was used as screening proxy. Receiver operating characteristic analysis rendered cutoff scores of 11, 18, and 25, for mild, moderate, and severe symptoms, respectively. Evaluated against each symptom scale separately, cutoffs performed well. Cutoff 11, previously identified by Hollifield et al. (2016), was also confirmed. However, utilization of additional cutoffs could improve refugee mental health by guiding clinical decision making.

  • 15.
    Dylman, Alexandra
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    When your heart is in your mouth: the effect of second language use on negative emotions2019In: Cognition & Emotion, ISSN 0269-9931, E-ISSN 1464-0600, Vol. 33, no 6, p. 1284-1290Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Research on bilingualism and emotions has shown stronger emotional responses in the native language (L1) compared to a foreign language. We investigated the potential of purposeful second language (L2) use as a means of decreasing the experience of psychological distress. Native Swedish speakers read and answered questions about negative and neutral texts in their L1 (Swedish) and their L2 (English) and were asked to rate their level of distress before or after the questions. The texts and associated questions were either written in the same (within-language), or different languages (cross-language). We found that within-language trials when the text was written in participants’ native language (Swedish–Swedish) resulted in an increase of distress, whilst cross-language trials (Swedish–English) resulted in a decrease of distress. This implies that purposeful second language use can diminish levels of distress experienced following a negative event encoded in one's first language.

  • 16.
    Flykt, Anders
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Bernhardsson, J
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Olofsson, L
    What the dot-probe reaction times reflect depends on the exposure time of the preceding stimulus.Manuscript (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Matrix (i.e grid pattern) arrays from visual search studies (e.g. Flykt, in press) were presented before the probe in two dot-probe experiments. This was done to investigate to what extent probe reaction times (RTs) would reflect the RTs to targets in visual search tasks. The participants were instructed to try to ignore the arrays and to focus on fast and accurate responses to the dot-probe. The results suggest two different processing stages, at 45 and 90 ms array exposure respectively. These processing stages were interpreted as one that orients attention towards a deviant item in the array and another, latter stage, that is dependent on what overarching categories of the deviant items and the remaining items in the array belongs to. It is further suggested that caution should be taken when making inference about the mechanism behind RTs in relation to emotional stimuli.

  • 17.
    Flykt, Anders
    et al.
    Linköpings universitet.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    The time course of resource allocation in spider fearful participants during fear reactions2008In: Cognition & Emotion, ISSN 0269-9931, E-ISSN 1464-0600, Vol. 22, no 7, p. 1381-1400Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The difference in dynamics of resource allocation to pictures of spiders and pictures of other animals in spider fearful participants was investigated. The tasks of the participants were to respond rapidly and accurately to various probe stimuli superimposed on pictures of different animals. These were supposedly fear-relevant (spiders, snakes, and wolfs) and fear-irrelevant (beetles, turtles, and rabbits). The probes were exposed at different stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs) from picture onset to address the dynamics of resource allocation. The results showed a larger allocation of resources to spider pictures than to pictures of other animals and the resource allocation showed differences depending on task and dependent measure.

  • 18.
    Gunther, A. C.
    et al.
    Karolinska Inst, Dept Physiol & Pharmacol, Sect Anesthesiol & Intens Care, Stockholm, Sweden.;Karolinska Univ Hosp, Dept Cardiothorac Surg & Anesthesiol, S-17176 Stockholm, Sweden..
    Schandl, A. R.
    Karolinska Inst, Dept Physiol & Pharmacol, Sect Anesthesiol & Intens Care, Stockholm; Karolinska Univ Hosp Solna, Dept Anesthesiol Surg Serv & Intens Care Med, Stockholm.
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Wållgren, M.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Alvarsson, J.
    Royal Inst Technol, Marcus Wallenberg Lab, Dept Aeronaut & Vehicle Engn, Sch Engn Sci, Stockholm.
    Bottai, M.
    Karolinska Inst, Unit Biostat, Dept Environm Med, Stockholm.
    Martling, C. -R
    Karolinska Inst, Dept Physiol & Pharmacol, Sect Anesthesiol & Intens Care, Stockholm; Karolinska Univ Hosp Solna, Dept Anesthesiol Surg Serv & Intens Care Med, Stockholm.
    Sackey, P. V.
    Karolinska Inst, Dept Physiol & Pharmacol, Sect Anesthesiol & Intens Care, Stockholm; Karolinska Univ Hosp Solna, Dept Anesthesiol Surg Serv & Intens Care Med, Stockholm.
    Pain rather than induced emotions and ICU sound increases skin conductance variability in healthy volunteers2016In: Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, ISSN 0001-5172, E-ISSN 1399-6576, Vol. 60, no 8, p. 1111-1120Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: Assessing pain in critically ill patients is difficult. Skin conductance variability (SCV), induced by the sympathetic response to pain, has been suggested as a method to identify pain in poorly communicating patients. However, SCV, a derivate of conventional skin conductance, could potentially also be sensitive to emotional stress. The purpose of the study was to investigate if pain and emotional stress can be distinguished with SCV.

    Methods: In a series of twelve 1-min sessions with SCV recording, 18 healthy volunteers were exposed to standardized electric pain stimulation during blocks of positive, negative, or neutral emotion, induced with pictures from the International Affective PictureSystem (IAPS). Additionally, authentic intensive care unit (ICU) sound was included in half of the sessions. All possible combinations of pain and sound occurred in each block of emotion, and blocks were presented in randomized order.

    Results: Pain stimulation resulted in increases in the number of skin conductance fluctuations (NSCF) in all but one participant. During pain-free baseline sessions, the median NSCF was 0.068 (interquartile range 0.013-0.089) and during pain stimulation median NSCF increased to 0.225 (interquartile range 0.146-0.3175). Only small increases in NSCF were found during negative emotions. Pain, assessed with the numeric rating scale, during the sessions with pain stimulation was not altered significantly by other ongoing sensory input.

    Conclusion: In healthy volunteers, NSCF appears to reflect ongoing autonomous reactions mainly to pain and to a lesser extent, reactions to emotion induced with IAPS pictures or ICU sound.

  • 19.
    Gunther, Anders
    et al.
    Karolinska Univ Hosp, Perioperat Med & Intes Care, Stockholm.
    Sackey, Peter
    Karolinska Univ Hosp, Perioperat Med & Intes Care, Stockholm.
    Storm, Hanne
    Univ Oslo, Inst Clin Med, Oslo, Norway.
    Wallgren, Max
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Validation of physiological and self-rated pain assessment tools; how do they act when compared to the nociceptive spinal reflex?: A comparison between physiological and self-rated pain assessment during different affective states2017In: Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, ISSN 0001-5172, E-ISSN 1399-6576, Vol. 61, no 8, p. 1047-1047, article id 137Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 20.
    Günther, A
    et al.
    Karolinska University Hospital.
    Hansen, J. O.
    University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
    Sackey, P
    Karolinska University Hospital.
    Storm, H
    University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
    Bernhardsson, Jensbe
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Sundin, Örjan
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Measuring pain - A validation of physiological and self-rated pain, and an investigation of the relationship between them2016Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 21.
    Günther, A.
    et al.
    Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Stockholm.
    Sackey, P.
    Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Stockholm.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Schandl, Anna
    Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Stockholm.
    The relation between skin conductance responses and recovery from symptoms of PTSD2017In: Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, ISSN 0001-5172, E-ISSN 1399-6576, Vol. 61, no 6, p. 688-695Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: The purpose was to investigate if potentially stressful reminders of the intensive care unit (ICU) stay influenced variability in transient skin conductance responses, and whether such changes were associated with post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), and development of symptoms over time. Methods: Thirty patients with an ICU length of stay > 48 h were included in the study. Within the week after ICU discharge (T1), patients were exposed to authentic ICU sound and questions regarding traumatic ICU memories while skin conductance reactivity was monitored. PTSS was assessed using PTSS-10 at T1 and again 3 months later (T2). Changes in number of skin conductance fluctuations per second (NSCF) between baseline and during the cueing conditions and in relation to PTSS scores (T1) were investigated. PTSS scores at T2 and changes between T1 and T2 (PTSS-CS) were used to investigate if reactivity in NSCF could predict symptoms of PTSD. Results: The results showed increases in NSCF during both situational and verbal cueing, compared to baseline. However, no relation to PTSS scores was indicated. Negative correlations between NSCF during situational cueing and both PTSS-T2 and PTSS-CS were found among women, but not among men. Conclusion: A low variability, or reactivity in skin conductance responses to situational cues could imply a risk of developing, or not being able to recover from, symptoms of PTSD in women. As such, the measurement could be used to predict this risk in women. However, further studies are necessary to evaluate this area of application.

  • 22.
    Leiler, Anna
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology. 202100-4524.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Ekdahl, Johanna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Wasteson, Elisabet
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    High levels of psychological distress among asylum seekers and refugees in Sweden2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In 2015 there was an unforeseen increase of refugees worldwide. In order to face the high rates of psychological distress refugees suffer, the AMIR-project created a model for early assessment and intervention of mental health among refugees. Previous research might not be applicable to the groups seeking asylum in Europe from 2015, so as a first step, a study aiming to estimate the prevalence of mental health problems was conducted.  

    Methods. Five hundred and ten refugees participated at open screenings conducted at refugee housing facilities. Of the participants, 367 were asylum seekers and 143 had received a residence permit. Instruments included measures of depressive symptoms, anxiety, risk of having PTSD and quality of life.

    Preliminary results. A high percentage of individuals (56-58.4%) reported clinically significant levels of depression, anxiety and risk of having PTSD. Prevalence estimates were significantly higher among asylum seekers than among those who had received their residence permit. Quality of life was generally rated below population norms and correlated significantly with mental health outcomes.

    Conclusions. Individuals residing in refugee housing facilities show high levels of psychological distress. Asylum seekers are worse off than those having received a residence permit. Actions should be taken to improve conditions in housing facilities, to shorten the time awaiting the asylum decision and to provide psychosocial support to help individuals manage their distress during the time of waiting.

    Key words: Refugee – asylum seeker – mental health – quality of life - prevalence

  • 23.
    Leiler, Anna
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Ekdahl, Johanna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Wasteson, Elisabet
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Mental Health and Quality of Life among Asylum Seekers and Refugees Living in Refugee Housing Facilities in Sweden2019In: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, ISSN 0933-7954, E-ISSN 1433-9285, Vol. 54, no 5, p. 543-551Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In 2015, there was a high influx of refugees to Sweden, creating an extreme situation where individuals were forced to remain in large housing facilities for long periods. The present study aims to describe the mental health and quality of life of these individuals. 

    Methods. Data, based on 510 individuals, were obtained by means of a questionnaire at open screenings conducted at or nearby refugee housing facilities. Of the participating refugees, 367 were asylum seekers and 143 had received a residence permit but were still awaiting a more permanent housing solution. The questionnaire included measures of depressive symptoms (PHQ-9), symptoms of anxiety (GAD-7), risk of having post traumatic stress disorder (PC-PTSD), and quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF).

    Results. Of the total sample, 56-58.4% reported clinically significant levels of symptoms of depression, anxiety and risk of having PTSD. Prevalence estimates were higher among asylum seekers than among those who had received their residence permit. Quality of life was generally rated below population norms and correlated negatively with mental health outcomes.

    Conclusions. Individuals residing in refugee housing facilities show high levels of psychological distress and rate their quality of life as low. Asylum seekers score higher than those having received a residence permit. These results are troublesome since the wait time for asylum decisions has lengthened considerably after 2015. The results of the present study calls for the urgency of societal actions to shorten the asylum process wait time and improve conditions at the housing facilities.  

  • 24.
    Leiler, Anna
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Hollifield, Michael
    War Survivors Institute, Long Beach, CA, USA.
    Wasteson, Elisabet
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Suicidal ideation and severity of distress among refugees residing in asylum accommodations in Sweden2019In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, ISSN 1661-7827, E-ISSN 1660-4601, Vol. 16, no 15, article id 2751Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Refugees worldwide suffer high levels of distress and are at increased risk for death by suicide. The Refugee Health Screener (RHS) was developed to screen for emotional distress among refugees and can be used to assess distress severity. This paper examines the association between distress severity and suicidal ideation in a sample of refugees residing in asylum accommodations. Data from the RHS and item 9 on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was analyzed. Results showed that individuals at moderate and severe levels of distress were much more likely to exhibit suicidal ideation than individuals with low levels of distress. Even though we cannot conclude that individuals with low levels of distress do not have thoughts of ending their lives, further suicide assessment is warranted in asylum seekers with moderate to severe distress on the RHS. 

  • 25.
    Sarkadi, Anna
    et al.
    Uppsala Universitet.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Leiler, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Salari, Raziye
    Uppsala Universitet.
    Is the refugee health screener a useful tool when screening 14-18 year old refugee adolescents for emotional distress?2018In: The Journal of Refugee Studies, ISSN 0951-6328, E-ISSN 1471-6925Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The high number of asylum seekers in Sweden has highlighted the need for structured assessment tools to screen for refugee mental health problems in clinical services. We examined the utility of the Refugee Health Screener (RHS) in refugee adolescents, aged 14-18, attending routine clinical examinations or staying in group homes/refugee centres (N=29). Participants completed a survey, including the RHS, administered through iPads in their native language. The RHS showed excellent internal consistency (α = .96) and correlated moderately with symptoms of PTSD (r=0.41, p=.025). Mean scores and prevalence rates were comparable to a study of adult refugees in Sweden. Unaccompanied refugee minors (URM) scored significantly higher (M=32.0, SD=12.9) compared to youth staying with their families (M=7.5, SD=8.2, p<.001, d=2.27). Our findings confirm that the RHS can be used in the adolescent population in Sweden.  These findings moreover suggest that URMs are a particularly vulnerable group with a large burden of mental health problems.

  • 26.
    Storm, Hanne
    et al.
    University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
    Günther, Anders
    Karolinska Univ Hosp, Stockholm.
    Sackey, Peter Victor
    Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm.
    Bernhardsson, Jens
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Bjärtå, Anna
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Measuring pain: Physiological and self-rated measurements in relation to pain stimulation and anxiety2019In: Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, ISSN 0001-5172, E-ISSN 1399-6576, Vol. 63, no 5, p. 668-675Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Introduction: The aim of the present study was to investigate how emotions influence pain, measured by one subjective self-rated measure, the numeric rating scale (NRS), and one objective physiological measure, the number of skin conductance responses (NSCR). Method: Eighteen volunteers were exposed to conditions with pictorial emotional stimuli (neutral, positive, negative), authentic ICU-sound (noise, no-noise) and electrical stimulation (pain, no-pain) individually titrated to induce moderate pain. When using all combinations of picture inducing emotions, sound, and pain, each of these conditions (12 conditions lasting for 60 seconds each) were followed by pain ratings. Ratings of arousal (low to high) and valence (pleasant to unpleasant) were used as indicators of affective state for each condition. Mean NSCR was also measured throughout the experiment for each condition. Results: Even though NRS and NSCR increased during painful stimuli, they did not correlate during the trial. However, NSCR was positively correlated with the strength of the electrical stimulation, r = 0.48, P = 0.046, whereas NRS showed positive correlations with the anxiety level, assessed by affective ratings (arousal, r = 0.61, P < 0.001, and valence, r = 0.37, P < 0.001). Conclusions: The NRS was strongly influenced by affective state, with higher pain ratings during more anxiety-like states, whereas NSCR correlated to the strength of electrical pain stimulation. That reported pain is moderated by anxiety, puts forward a discussion whether reduction of the anxiety level should be considered during analgesia treatment.

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