The mental health, quality of life and life satisfaction of internally displaced persons living in Nakuru County, Kenya

Elijah Mironga Getanda, Chris Papadopoulos, Hala Evans

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Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are among the most vulnerable people in the world today. Previous research highlights that conflict-induced forced displacement can cause problems with mental health and wellbeing. This study aimed to contribute to this body of knowledge by investigating the mental health, quality of life, and life satisfaction among IDPs living in Nakuru, Kenya.

A questionnaire that included the General Health Questionnaire-12, Satisfaction with Life Scale, and a modified version of the WHO Quality of Life-BREF tool was used for data collection. The questionnaire also included an open-ended question inviting qualitative responses about their experience as an IDP. The questionnaire was distributed through a three-stage sampling approach across four refugee camps from four regions of the Nakuru County in Kenya.

One hundred IDPs participated in this study. All participants scored substantially higher than the applied GHQ-12 threshold for caseness (mean GHQ-12 score = 28.7, SD = 3.6). Quality of life and life satisfaction scores were also very poor (M = 10.24, SD = 1.9; M = 6.82, SD = 1.5 respectively). The qualitative results reflected these findings with statements reflecting suicidal thoughts, unhappiness with the government, lack of support, and fear for themselves and their children. Significantly higher GHQ-12 scores were found among older IDPs (rho = .202, sig = .046), widowers compared to married IDPs (mean difference = −2.41, SE = .885, sig = .027), while lower scores were found among IDPs who reported having friends as a source of support (U = 834, sig = .045), while quality of life scores were higher among IDPs who reported receiving governmental support (U = 248, sig = .018).

The findings revealed poor levels of mental health, quality of life and life satisfaction. Older, widowed IDPs and those who did not perceive support from friends or the government were found to be at the highest risk of poor health and wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number755
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Open Access This article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Nakuru
  • Internally displaced persons
  • Mental health
  • Psychological distress
  • Quality of life
  • Life satisfaction


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