Background: Mental health symptoms among refugees are common, often related to chronic pain disorders, and their management is usually challenging. Studies evaluating the effect of group therapies among adult refugees to improve mental health symptoms are scarce. Aims: To assess the effect of Teaching Recovery Techniques (TRT) on mental health and to reduce pain disorder among adult Syrian refugees. Method: A randomized controlled trial was designed to study the effect of a self-help group intervention using TRT. The outcomes, mental health symptoms measured by Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and chronic pain measured by Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), were reported as regression coefficients (B) with 95% confidence intervals. Results: Seventy-six adults participated: 38 in the intervention and 38 in the control groups. Intention-to-treat analyses showed a significant effect on general mental health as measured by GHQ-12 with B (95% CI) of -3.8 (-7.2, -0.4). There was no effect of TRT on mental health when assessed by IES-R (-1.3 (-8.7, 6.2)) or on pain levels assessed by BPI (-0.04 (-4.0, 3.9)). Conclusions: This self-help group intervention significantly improved general mental health symptoms among adult refugees but had no effect on trauma symptoms or chronic pain. Higher participation rates might be necessary to achieve the full potential of TRT. Trial registration: The trial was registered with Clinical at To include user participation in the design of the interventions, the study was retrospectively registered on 19 February 2019.

DOI: 10.1186/s13033-022-00557-4
ISSN: 1752-4458