Original Paper

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 693-699

First online:

How are immigrant background and gender associated with the utilisation of psychiatric care among adolescents?

  • Anna-Karin IvertAffiliated withFaculty of Health and Society, Malmö University Email author 
  • , Juan MerloAffiliated withFaculty of Medicine, Unit for Social Epidemiology, CRC, Lund University
  • , Robert SvenssonAffiliated withFaculty of Health and Society, Malmö University
  • , Marie Torstensson LevanderAffiliated withFaculty of Health and Society, Malmö University

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To investigate how parental country of birth and individual gender affect utilisation of psychiatric care in adolescents.


On the basis of data from the Longitudinal Multilevel Analysis in Scania database, the article employs logistic regression to analyse the utilisation of psychiatric care among adolescents aged 13–18 (n = 92203) who were living in the southern Swedish county of Scania in 2005.


Adolescents whose parents were born in middle- or low-income countries presented lower levels of psychiatric outpatient care utilisation than those with native parents. Initially, no associations were found between the utilisation of psychiatric inpatient care and parental country of birth. Following adjustment for socio-demographic variables, it was found that adolescents with parents born in low-income countries were less likely to utilise psychiatric inpatient care. Girls presented higher levels of psychiatric care utilisation, but controls for possible interactions revealed that this was true primarily for girls with parents born in Sweden or other high-income countries.


The different utilisation patterns found among adolescents with different backgrounds should be taken into consideration when planning and designing psychiatric care for adolescents, and when allocating resources. Our results may indicate lower levels of mental health problems among adolescents with parents born in middle- or low-income countries implying that protective factors compensate other stressors implicated in mental health problems. On the other hand, our findings may indicate an unmet health-care need as a result of problems accessing care.


Adolescents Psychiatric care utilisation Parental country of birth Gender