Drawing on Interdisciplinary Perspectives to Understand Immigrant Mental Health

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Magdalena SZAFLARSKI, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA
Lisa A. CUBBINS, Battelle Health & Analytics, USA
In this study, we utilize social/behavioral, epidemiological, and psychiatric perspectives to more fully understand the extent of mental health problems and treatment gaps among immigrants to the US.  We describe how an interdisciplinary group of researchers came together to develop a framework to investigate factors shaping immigrant mental health and help-seeking for mental health problems.  We draw on the history of immigration in the US and sociological and psychological research on acculturation, social stress, prejudice and discrimination, and the role of social ties in health to delineate potential factors shaping immigrant mental health and help-seeking.   Furthermore, we use psychiatric conceptualizations of mental disorders (per Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM]) and epidemiologic data to test hypotheses about the relationships of immigrant status and racial-ethnic origin to mental health outcomes, as well as the explanatory role of social/psychological factors (e.g., acculturation, discrimination).  The data for the study are derived from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Alcohol-Related Conditions (NESARC), an excellent source of recent data on mental health for the US adult population.  This longitudinal survey oversampled racial/ethnic minorities, targeted vulnerable/transient populations, and has detailed information about mental/behavioral conditions, immigrant characteristics, and social/psychological factors of interest in this study.  We constructed DSM-IV-based diagnoses of depressive, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders from information in the NESARC collected using a state-of-the art diagnostic interview (AUDADIS-IV).   Psychiatric expertise on this project was essential in correctly coding respondents based on the necessary and/or available DSM-IV criteria for each disorder.  We used logistic regression analyses to test unadjusted and adjusted models for each outcome, computing interactive effects of immigrant (foreign-born) status and racial-ethnic origin.  Our empirical findings are presented briefly while we discuss in-depth the interdisciplinary contributions in this project and value of interdisciplinary collaborations in research on immigrant health.