Depression prevalence in disadvantaged young black women
Research with Mexican Americans suggests that immigrants have lower rates of mental disorders than U. S.-born Mexican Americans. We examine the prevalence of depression, somatization, alcohol use and drug use among black American women, comparing rates of disorders among U. S.-born, Caribbean-born, and African-born subsamples.
Women in Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs, county-run Title X family planning clinics, and low-income pediatric clinics were interviewed using the PRIME-MD. In total, 9,151 black women were interviewed; 7,965 were born in the U. S., 913 were born in Africa, and 273 were born in the Caribbean.
Controlling for other predictors, U.S.-born black women had odds of probable depression that were 2.94 times greater than the African-born women (p<0.0001, 95% CI: 2.07, 4.18) and 2.49 times greater than Caribbean-born women (p<0.0016, 95% CI: 1.41, 4.39). Likelihood of somatization did not differ among women who were U. S. born, African born, or Caribbean born. Rates of alcohol and drug problems were exceedingly low among all three groups, with less than 1% of the women reporting either alcohol or drug problems.
These results mirror similar findings for Mexican immigrant as compared with American-born Mexican Americans. The findings suggest that living in the U. S. might increase depression among poor black women receiving services in county entitlement clinics. Further research with ethnically validated instruments is needed to identify protective and risk factors associated with depression in immigrant and U. S.-born poor black women.
Key wordsdepression African American immigrant mental health
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