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Differences in mental health in Mexican immigrants by time in U.S. and language choice

Elizabeth Perez, BS1, Madeleine Shalowitz, MD1, Carolyn Berry, PhD2, and Molly Martin, MD3. (1) Section for Child and Family Health Studies, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute, 1001 University Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201, 224-364-7460, elperez@enh.org, (2) Center for Health and Public Service Research, New York University, 295 Lafayette Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012, (3) Department of Preventive Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, 1700 W Van Buren St, Suite 470, Chicago, IL 60612

Introduction. There is conflicting evidence on the association between mental health and acculturation. We sought to examine the association between mental health and the acculturation proxies of time in the US and language preference.

Methods. We analyzed cross-sectional data from a community sample of foreign born Mexican adult immigrants (n=369) living in the US. Measures of social support (MOSS), depression (CES-D), and life events (CRISYS) were administered in English or Spanish telephone interviews. Time in US was grouped by 10 year intervals. Based on median split, >4 life events was used to denote high number of life events.

Results. 90% of subjects were female, median age 34. Spanish was used 99% by participants who had lived in US 0-10 yrs, 82% for 10-20yrs, and 47% for >20 yrs. Preliminary bivariate results show 44% of Spanish speakers (SS) were depressed amongst those 0-10 yrs in US, 35% of SS versus 30% of English speakers (ES) for 10-20yrs, and 52% of SS versus 19% ES for >20yrs. High number of life events occurred 58% in SS for 0-10yrs, 58% in SS versus 37% in ES for 10-20yrs, and 49% in SS versus 39% in ES for >20yrs. Social support was greater in ES than SS in 10-20yrs (p=.04) and >20yrs (p=.07). Multivariate analyses will refine these results.

Discussion. In our sample, Spanish speakers experienced less social support, more life events, and greater depression, with levels of depression higher than the national average. This suggests urban Mexican immigrants with low acculturation may be at increased risk for mental health problems.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Keywords: Hispanic, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues Among Hispanics

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA