Immigrant Preadolescents and Risk of Emotional Distress
Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology
The question of whether immigrants have more emotional problems than their non-immigrant peers has yielded mixed results. In Norway, there has been a tendency toward immigrant youth reporting higher rates of emotional problems. In addition to studying levels of emotional problems across those with immigrant backgrounds, there is a need to investigate whether the phenomenology of these problems is comparable across ethnic groups. Objectives: We used latent class analysis (LCA) to identify
... ps of preadolescents with distinct types of emotional problems in a multiethnic sample in Norway and to investigate associations with immigrant status after controlling for other demographic and risk factors related to emotional problems. Methods: Preadolescents between the ages of 10 and 12 years (n = 1042) completed a questionnaire that assessed emotional problems and sociodemographic factors such as gender, grade level, city, economic hardship, school hassles, and parental achievement values. LCA was used to identify subgroups of preadolescent emotional problems. Multinomial logistic regressions were conducted to assess the relationships between these subgroups and the presence of an immigrant background with four immigrant groups (all backgrounds, Pakistan, Turkey, and Sri Lanka). The reference group was the ethnic Norwegians. Results: LCA identified three classes according to the severity of the problems; these were labeled healthy, borderline, and distressed. Multinomial logistic regression analyses found the presence of an immigrant background as compared with a non-immigrant background to increase the odds of a person belonging to the distressed class by an approximate factor of 2, depending on the immigrant group. This finding remained consistent after controlling for risk factors. Conclusions: These findings suggest that, even as early as preadolescence, the presence of an immigrant background may significantly increase the odds of an individual belonging to a subgroup characterized by emotional distress (as compared with belonging to a healthy class). These findings also suggest similarity across ethnic backgrounds with regard to the expression of emotional problems during preadolescence. This is the first study to identify classes of emotional problems among specific preadolescent immigrant groups.