Psychological distress in migrants in Australia over 50 years old : a longitudinal investigation

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Journal article

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Journal of Affective Disorders

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Australia, Older migrants, Psychological distress


Background: Although it is a well-known fact that migration is a risk factor contributing to psychopathology, little is known in migrants who migrated in their old age. The present study examined whether origin of countries and visa types predicted psychological distress over a period of 1 year and whether their association changed after factors in health, social roles, cohort effect and social support were adjusted.

Methods: A nationwide representative sample of 431 migrants who aged 50 and above were interviewed in 2000-2001 and 359 of them were re-interviewed 1 year after the baseline assessment. 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) was used measure psychological distress and a series of questions regarding socio-demographic characteristics (age, gender, living alone), days in Australia, origin of countries, visa types, health, social role, cohort effect, and social support were also included.

Results: GHQ-12 scores did deteriorate over a period of 1 year among older migrants to Australia. In multiple regression analyses, origin of countries and visa types were significant predictors of future GHQ-12 scores. Baseline GHQ-12 scores, age, gender, living alone, days in Australia, poor self-rated health, the presence of heart disease, diabetes, and asthma, being a student or economically inactive, widowhood or divorce, as well as education were also significant predictors of GHQ-12 scores at 1-year follow-up.

Conclusions: The status of refugees predicts future psychological distress in older migrants even when other known correlates of psychological distress are controlled.



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Funding Information

Preparation of this article was supported in part by the Research Grant Council (HKU 7004-PPR20051). {HKU 7004-PPR20051}

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

The data was made available by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affaires, Australia Commonwealth Government.

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Recommended Citation

Chou, K.-L. (2007). Psychological distress in migrants in Australia over 50 years old: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of Affective Disorders, 98(1-2), 99-108. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2006.07.002