175770 Mediating Effect of Physical Health and Social Networks on the Mental Health Consequences of International Migration for Vietnamese Americans

Monday, October 27, 2008: 9:25 AM

Hongyun Fu, M A , Department of International Health and Development, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Mark J. VanLandingham, Ph D , Department of International Health and Development, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Janet C. Rice, PhD , Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA
Carl Bankston, PhD , Department of Sociology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Background: The existing literature on immigrant's mental health is extensive. While a fairly wide range of mental health problems among immigrants have been identified, the mechanism of migration/mental health dynamics has not been well-understood. And substantively, we know less about the Vietnamese Americans than about immigrants from other countries. This study addresses these key problems by using a “natural experiment” research design, which involves three population-based samples of Vietnamese immigrants, never-leavers, and returnees. It explores the impact of international migration on Vietnamese mental health by focusing on the potential mediating effects of physical health and social networks.

Methods: Our sample consists of 127 Vietnamese immigrants living in New Orleans; 142 returnees to HCMC; and 467 HCMC residents who never migrated. Mental health outcomes measures include 4 dimensions of SF-36 sub-scales, Vietnamese Depression Scale and Affect Balance Scale. Structural equation modeling is utilized to examine the potential mediating effect of social networks and social networks on the observed associations between migration and mental health.

Results: Vietnamese immigrants demonstrated significant advantages on physical health and better quality of social networks, compared to both never-leavers and returnees. Physical health and social networks have significant buffering effects on the impact of migration on the mental health of Vietnamese.

Conclusions: This study underlies the multifaceted and multi-dimensional nature of migration and mental health dynamics. Interventions programs focusing on facilitating ethic community bonds within the ethnic enclaves and targeting at improving immigrants' physical health status could contribute to the promotion of their mental health conditions.

Learning Objectives:
1) To investigate the relationship between migration and mental health among Vietnamese by employing a quasi-experimental strategy. 2) To explore the mechanisms of migrating/mental health dynamics, with a focus on the mediating role of physical health and social networks. 3) To obtain insights for mental health promotion and interventions among Vietnamese nationals and immigrants.

Keywords: Mental Health, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This is a part of the project I worked on to accomplish my doctoral degree program in the Department of International Health and Development at Tulane University
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.