Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 87–95 | Cite as

Ethnic Norwegian and ethnic minority adolescents in Oslo, Norway

A longitudinal study comparing changes in mental health
  • Åse Sagatun
  • Lars Lien
  • Anne Johanne Søgaard
  • Espen Bjertness
  • Sonja Heyerdahl



Little is known about ethnic disparities in mental health during late teens. The aim of this study was to compare changes in self reported mental health between adolescents with ethnic Norwegian and ethnic minority background aged 15-16 years followed for three years.


The youth part of the Oslo Health Study constituted the baseline of this self-reported longitudinal study, carried out in schools in 2001 (n = 3811). The follow-up in 2004 was conducted partly in school and partly through mail. A total of 2489 (1112 boys and 1377 girls) participated in the follow-up. Twenty percent of the participants had an ethnic minority background. Mental health was measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-10).


Ethnic minority boys and girls reported poorer mental health than ethnic Norwegians of the same sex, both at baseline and follow-up. Exceptions were hyperactivity-inattention problems and prosocial behaviours where no differences were found. Consistent changes from baseline to follow-up were; an increase in mental distress and prosocial behaviour. No ethnic disparities were found for changes in mental health from ages 15 to 18 between the two groups. There was no different effect of perceived family economy, parents’ marital status and socioeconomic region of residence in Oslo on change in mental health between ethnic Norwegian and ethnic minority boys and girls from age 15 to 18 years.


Ethnic disparities in mental health remained the same from age 15-16 and throughout teenage years. Demographic factors adjusted for had no different impact on changes in mental health between host and immigrant adolescents.

Key words

adolescent mental health SDQ immigrants longitudinal study 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Åse Sagatun
    • 1
  • Lars Lien
    • 2
  • Anne Johanne Søgaard
    • 2
    • 3
  • Espen Bjertness
    • 2
  • Sonja Heyerdahl
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Eastern and Southern NorwayOsloNorway
  2. 2.Institute of General Practise and Community MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.Norwegian Institute of Public HealthOsloNorway

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