Immigration experience and subsequent mental health issues in immigrant children from China, Russia, and the Dominican Republic: Implications for the use of cross-cultural comparisons

Patricia L Lopez, Pace University

Abstract

Much of the research which has demonstrated a relationship between a range of mental health problems and immigrant status and/or acculturation level has reflected limitations in the evaluation of immigrants' mental health and the acculturation process. Most studies have focused on one ethnic group making it difficult to generalize findings to diverse ethnic populations with multiple reasons for immigration. Studies that examined acculturation in immigrant populations have used varied models of acculturation and often have not described the scales' dimensions. Most mental health measures used with ethnic populations have been standardized on U.S. samples, raising questions about the validity of the mental health constructs being measured. ^ This study sought to expand upon the paucity of research that has addressed these issues in immigrant children by examining the relationship between immigrant status amongst Russian, Chinese, and Dominican immigrant parents and their perception of mental health issues in their children. The relationship between parental acculturation level and parental perception of mental health issues in immigrant children was also explored. Generalization of findings among immigrant populations was addressed by using the same methodology with three immigrant groups. A mental health measurement tool with normative data in two of the three countries of origin was utilized to enable valid comparisons of the constructs measured. ^ CBCL and PAS responses of Russian, Chinese, and Dominican immigrant parents were compared to normative data from their country of origin and the U.S. Results revealed that Dominican immigrant parents reported significantly less behavioral problems in their children than parents from Puerto Rico, and parents from the U.S. Russian immigrant parents reported significantly more Internalizing symptoms for their children than U.S. parents. No relationship was found between parental acculturation level and parental report of children's behavior. Differences among immigrants' country of origin and U.S. norms on measures such as the CBCL, underscore the need for developing cultural normative data, and support the psychological practice of assessing symptom reports within the context of relevant comparison groups. The implications of these findings with regard to the mental health of immigrant children are identified and the development of preventative services are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Asian American Studies|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Hispanic American Studies

Recommended Citation

Patricia L Lopez, "Immigration experience and subsequent mental health issues in immigrant children from China, Russia, and the Dominican Republic: Implications for the use of cross-cultural comparisons" (January 1, 2009). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI3377716.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI3377716

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