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Migrant Mental Health: a look at the relationship between the migration journey and mental health among new legal permanent residents in the United States

Yee, Kristen Michelle (2012)
Master's Thesis (112 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Stephenson, Robert
Committee Members:
Research Fields: Health Sciences, Public Health
Partnering Agencies: Emory University schools, faculty or affiliated programs ; University, college or educational institution (other than Emory)
Keywords: international migration; mental health; newcomers; legal permanent residents; United States; migration journey
Program: Rollins School of Public Health, Hubert Department of Global Health
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/bqsns

Abstract

Background: Migration theory and research have long ignored the role of the
migration journey in influencing the health of international migrants.


Objective: This study aims to examine the relationship between the context of the
migration journey and migrant mental health among new legal permanent residents in
the United States.


Methods: The NIS-2003-1 dataset contains information on a nationally representative
sample of newly admitted to Legal Permanent Residents in the U.S. from 2003. The
data collected include information on background characteristics; migration histories;
health status, behaviors and practices; economic profile; family life; and living
conditions of new legal permanent residents. The adult sample from the NIS-2003-1 (N=8573) was
analyzed using logistic and linear regression to examine the relationship between
factors in the migration journey and mental health, while controlling for individual
background, pre-migration, and post-migration characteristics.


Results: Age at first migration and the time elapsed between first applied for and
gained permanent residency were significant predictors of experience of sadness in
this cohort. Older age at first migration was protective: with every year increase in age,
the odds of experience of sadness lasting two weeks or more decrease by 1.0%.
Relative to those who waited two years or less, those having to wait six to nine years
between the time they first applied for and received permanent residency were
significantly more likely to report sadness related to receipt of permanent residency
(OR: 2.43, 95% CI: 1.46, 4.04). When other characteristics were controlled, there was
no additional evidence of significant relationships between any other migration
variables and mental health. Female gender, history of mental and chronic illness, at
least one episode of binge drinking in the last three months, and experience of harm
were all positively associated with experience of depressive symptoms (p=0.000 for
all).


Conclusion: The migration journey should not be discounted in migration and health
research as experiences related to the migration journey may help predict mental
distress among new legal permanent residents in the U.S. Continued investigation into
the influence the migration journey has on migrant mental health is strongly
encouraged.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction........................................................................................ 1

Objective and aims.............................................................................................. 4

Global mental health............................................................................................ 4

International migrants and migration theory: an overview........................................ 5

Chapter 2: Literature Review................................................................................ 8

International migration levels, patterns, and trends in the United States..................... 8

The health of international migrants in the United States........................................ 12

The relationship between migration and health...................................................... 21

Acculturation and mental health among international migrants................................ 25

Chapter 3: Methods............................................................................................ 31

The New Immigrant Survey (NIS)........................................................................ 31

Data analysis..................................................................................................... 34

Chapter 4: Results.............................................................................................. 55

Chapter 5: Discussion......................................................................................... 83

Chapter 6: Recommendations.............................................................................. 92

Limitations......................................................................................................... 95

References......................................................................................................... 97

Files

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