Changes in mental health status amongst children of migrants to Australia: a longitudinal study

Alati, Rosa, Najman, Jake M,, Shuttlewood, Gregory J., Williams, G. M. and Bor, W. (2003) Changes in mental health status amongst children of migrants to Australia: a longitudinal study. Sociology of Health and Illness, 25 7: 866-888. doi:10.1046/j.1467-9566.2003.00373.x

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Author Alati, Rosa
Najman, Jake M,
Shuttlewood, Gregory J.
Williams, G. M.
Bor, W.
Title Changes in mental health status amongst children of migrants to Australia: a longitudinal study
Journal name Sociology of Health and Illness   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0141-9889
Publication date 2003-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1046/j.1467-9566.2003.00373.x
Volume 25
Issue 7
Start page 866
End page 888
Total pages 23
Editor R. Dingwall
V. James
E. Murphy
Place of publication Oxford
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject 321202 Epidemiology
321204 Mental Health
Abstract This paper examines the mental wellbeing of children of Australian migrants. Migration can be viewed as a natural experiment in which persons of one culture have their beliefs, values and behaviours challenged by the host culture. Such a process could be expected to lead to impaired mental health amongst migrants and their children. This paper investigates the relationship between migrants' region of origin, length of stay in Australia and indicators of impaired mental health. The data were taken from the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP), a longitudinal study of mothers and children which started in Brisbane, Australia, in 1981. The study comprises a cohort of over 5,000 women interviewed at their first ante-natal clinic visit and followed up at 3-5 days, six months, 5 and 14 years after the baby was born. Results showed no significant differences between the mental health of 'second generation' children and their Australian counterparts. Length of stay in Australia was not associated with internalising symptoms (anxiety and depression). There was a positive association, however, between the length of stay in Australia and increased externalising problems (aggression and delinquency) amongst the children at both 5- and 14-years follow-up. We conclude that children of migrants do not differ from comparable children of Australian-born parents in their mental health. Children of migrant parents have fewer symptoms of some behaviour problems in the years after their arrival in Australia, but these rates increase to the Australian level over time.
Keyword mental health
migrant children
longitudinal study
Coronary heart-disease
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Additional Notes Originally published as Rosa Alati, Jake M. Najman, Gregory J. Shuttlewood, Gail M. Williams and William Bor (2003) Changes in mental health status amongst children of migrants to Australia: a longitudinal study, Sociology of Health & Illness, 25 (7): 866-888. Copyright 2003 Blackwell Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Created: Mon, 26 Sep 2005, 10:00:00 EST by Rosa Alati on behalf of School of Public Health