Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Refugee Children’s Forced Repatriation: Social Workers' and Police Officers’ Health and Job Characteristics

  •  Johanna Sundqvist    
  •  Jonas Hansson    
  •  Mehdi Ghazinour    
  •  Kenneth Ögren    
  •  Mojgan Padyab    


During the past ten years the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children has dramatically increased in Sweden. Some of them are permitted to stay in the receiving country, but some are forced back to their country of origin. Social workers and police officers are involved in these forced repatriations, and such complex situations may cause stressful working conditions. This study aimed to bridge the gap in knowledge of the relationship between general mental health and working with unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children who are due for forced repatriation. In addition, the role of psychosocial job characteristics in such relationships was investigated. A questionnaire including sociodemographic characteristics, the Swedish Demand-Control-Support Questionnaire, and the 12-item General Mental Health Questionnaire were distributed nationally. Univariate and multivariable regression models were used. Poorer mental health was associated with working with unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children among social workers but not among police officers. Psychological job demand was a significant predictor for general mental health among social workers, while psychological job demand, decision latitude, and marital status were predictors among police officers. Findings are discussed with special regard to the context of social work and police professions in Sweden.

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