Parental immigrant status and adolescent mental health in the United States: Do racial/ethnic differences exist?

Arnold Degboe, Rhonda Belue, Marianne Messersmith Hillemeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aims: To examine the relationship between mental health problems and parental immigrant status in a representative sample of US adolescents aged 12-17. Method: We analyzed the US 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) restricted to 32,849 adolescents aged 12-17. Parents or guardians in random-digit-dial sampled households were interviewed by telephone from April 2007 through July 2008 about one of their children, selected at random. Five mental health measures were used: prior medical diagnoses of (a) depression, (b) anxiety, and (c) behavioral problems; parental reports of the adolescent (d) feeling inferior/worthless, and (e) episodes of being withdrawal from others. Logistic regression models were employed to examine the relationship between mental health problems and parental immigrant status. Results: Overall, 19.4% of adolescents had at least one immigrant parent. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, all adolescents with immigrant parents have decreased odds of behavioral problems (OR 0.43, p<.000), but no significant differences in the odds of depression, anxiety, worthlessness, and withdrawal compared to adolescents with US-born parents. Similarly, White, Black, and Hispanic adolescents with immigrant parents had decreased odds of behavioral problems (OR 0.35, p<.000; OR 0.31, p<.01; and OR 0.24, p<.05, respectively) compared to their counterparts with US-born parents. Conclusion: Evaluation of psychological and mental health problems among adolescents in the United States should take parental immigrant status and other sociodemographic factors into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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