Asylum Medicine: Standard and Best Practices

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Due to global events in recent years, applications for political asylum have increased, although the number of people granted asylum in the United States and elsewhere has declined. Physicians and other health care professionals can play a crucial role in the evaluation of individuals seeking asylum, since appropriately documented objective clinical evidence of torture and other forms of persecution can increase the likelihood that survivors of human rights abuses obtain asylum. Many clinicians have the requisite expertise and skills needed to conduct forensic asylum evaluations. However, despite growing interest in this area, the demand for medical and psychiatric forensic evaluations exceeds the number of clinicians who are prepared to conduct asylum evaluations. In an effort to increase the number of qualified clinicians interested and involved in medical and psychiatric evaluations of asylum seekers, this article offers a summary of standard and best practices in the area, including recommended qualifications and competencies relevant to the practice of forensic asylum evaluations, guidance on effective approaches to the medical and psychiatric evaluation of asylum seekers, and recommendations related to medicolegal documentation and testimony. We also highlight gaps in evidence regarding best practices.


Ferdowsian, H., McKenzie, K., and Zeidan, A. (2019). Asylum Medicine: Standard and Best Practices. Health and Human Rights Journal, 21(1):215-225.

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