3 questions to…Constance Prieur and Paul Dourgnon, following the publication of Issues in Health Economics n° 266, March 2022: "In France, One out of Six Undocumented Immigrants Suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder", written with Florence Jusot, Antoine Marsaudon, Jérôme Wittwer and Stéphanie Guillaume
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced a traumatic event. It has a profound impact on private and social life and requires specific medical treatments. According to the "Premiers Pas" ("First Steps") survey, carried out in 2019 in Paris and the Bordeaux agglomeration, PTSD prevalence reached 16% in undocumented immigrants, whereas it is estimated between 1% and 2% in the general resident population in France. Women and men appear to be affected in similar proportions.
This very high prevalence is not only the consequence of events experienced in the country of origin or during the migratory journey, it also originates in the often very precarious living conditions in France. Poor living conditions and isolation can increase the risk of undergoing a traumatic experience. They are also likely to increase the risk of developing PTSD or to reinforce symptoms by exhausting the moral and physical resistance.
PTSD requires specific medical treatments. However, only 47% of people suffering from PTSD and eligible to the State Medical Aid (AME, Aide médicale de l'Etat) are actually covered. However, although it makes it possible to reduce the effects of PTSD on sufferers' health, improved access to healthcare coverage would not prevent the development of PTSD. The determinants of PTSD are rooted in the countries of origin, the migration journey itself, and the living conditions in the host country. Public policy in France can help improve immigrants' living conditions, therefore reduce PTSD prevalence.