Response to mental health treatment varies highly among refugee patients. Research has not established which factors relate to differences in outcome. This study is a follow-up of Opaas and Hartmann's (2013) Rorschach Inkblot Method (RIM; Exner, 2003) pretreatment study of traumatized refugees, where 2 RIM principal components, Trauma Response and Reality Testing, were found descriptive of participants’ trauma-related personality functioning. This study's aims were to examine relationships of the RIM components with measures of anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, quality of life (QOL), employment, and exile language skills throughout 3 years. We found that impaired Reality Testing was related to more mental health symptoms and poorer QOL; furthermore, individuals with adequate Reality Testing improved in posttraumatic stress symptoms the first year and retained their improvement. Individuals with impaired Reality Testing deteriorated the first year and improved only slightly the next 2 years. The results of this study imply that traumatized refugee patients with impaired Reality Testing might need specific treatment approaches. Research follow-up periods should be long enough to detect changes. The reality testing impairment revealed by the RIM, mainly perceptual in quality, might not be easily detected by diagnostic interviews and self-report.
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