STARC-SUD – Adaptation of a Transdiagnostic Intervention for Refugees With Substance Use Disorders


  • Annett Lotzin Orcid
  • Jutta Lindert
  • Theresa Koch
  • Alexandra Liedl
  • Ingo Schäfer Orcid


Background: Refugees often suffer from multiple mental health problems, which transdiagnostic interventions can address. STARC (Skills-Training of Affect Regulation – A Culture-sensitive Approach) is a culturally sensitive transdiagnostic group intervention that has been developed for refugees to improve affect regulation. In refugees with substance use disorders (SUD), the consideration of SUD-specific elements might improve the acceptance and effectiveness of such an intervention. We aimed to adapt the STARC program for refugees with SUD in a culturally sensitive way.
Method: The conceptual framework of Heim and Kohrt (2019) was used to culturally sensitively adapt the STARC program to the needs of Syrian refugees with SUD. The results of five focus group discussions with refugees on cultural concepts of SUD and their treatment informed the adaption. An expert group suggested adaptions and decided by consensus on their implementation. Two pilot groups were conducted with the adapted STARC-SUD program. Interviews with the therapists of these pilot groups informed further adaption.
Results: The concepts related to SUD identified in focus groups and therapists’ interviews that differed from Western concepts were integrated into the STARC intervention.
Discussion: Further studies should assess the acceptance and effectiveness of the culturally sensitive STARC-SUD program for refugees with SUD.