A gender-oriented comparison between the mental health profiles of Bulgarian immigrants forcibly migrated to Turkey and the native population 15 years after migration

Yenilmez C., Ayranci U., Topal S., Aksaray G., Seber G., Kaptanoglu C.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY IN CLINICAL PRACTICE, vol.11, no.1, pp.21-28, 2007 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Background. The considerable problem of the migration of people, mainly from developing or undeveloped countries to developed countries, is a worldwide issue. The aims of this study were to compare, according to gender, scores obtained pertaining to mental symptom distributions of Bulgarian immigrants arriving in one city of west Turkey in 1989 with those of native-born citizens, as well as to the scores obtained from the scales of anxiety, hopelessness, job and life satisfaction. Methods. During the period of study between I February and 31 April 2003, short symptom inventory, state and trait anxiety scales, and hopelessness, job, and life satisfaction scales were collected from 85 immigrants living in a district where immigrants are prevalent. The results of 98 of the native population living in the same district were also collected during the same period. Data were analyzed using chi-square, t, Mann-Whitney U-tests, and percent ratios. Results: Upon comparison of the scores of both immigrant women and native women, and immigrant men and native men, no differences were found between scores obtained from the subscales of short symptom inventory, state and trait anxiety scales, and hopelessness and job satisfaction scales (p >0.05). The only observable difference was between scores obtained from the life satisfaction scale (p <0.01 and p <0.05, respectively). The depression subscale of the short symptom inventory revealed a difference in the scores of immigrant women compared to immigrant men, as did the somatization subscale for native-born women when compared to native men (p <0.05 and p <0.05, respectively). Conclusions: That both male and female immigrants had low scores for life satisfaction forces us to draw the conclusion that their expectations, necessities, desires and wishes were not entirely fulfilled. The reason for their being no observable differences between the other scale scores may be attributed to the fact that the immigrant women and men share not only the same ethnic origin, but also historical and cultural ties with those in Turkey. An alternative view could be that those entering the country may have adapted to the environment after the passage of 15 years. Furthermore, the significant difference seen between immigrant women and men, and native women and men in terms of symptoms of depression and somatization, respectively, may be explained through the notion that women perceived migration to be more different, and that native women more readily accepted the thought of physical illness according to mental disorders. Further studies are needed to better explain some of these results.