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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 1999 Summer;45(2):125-39.

Psychological distress through immigration: the two-phase temporal pattern?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.


A large community sample, cross-sectional and in part longitudinal design, and comparison groups was used to determine the timing of psychological distress among immigrants. A total of 2,378 adult immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel completed the self-administered questionnaire Talbieh Brief Distress Inventory. The aggregate levels of distress and six psychological symptoms--obsessiveness, hostility, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, anxiety, and paranoid ideation--were compared at 20 intervals covering 1 to 60 months after resettlement. The level of psychological distress was significantly higher in the immigrants than that of Israeli natives but not in the potential immigrant controls. A two-phase temporal pattern of development of psychological distress was revealed consisting of escalation and reduction phases. The escalation phase was characterized by an increase in distress levels until the 27th month after arrival (a peak) and the reduction phase led to a decline returning to normal levels. The 1-month prevalence rate was 15.6% for the total sample, and for highly distressed subjects it reached 24% at the 27th month after arrival, and it declined to 4% at the 44th month. The time pattern of distress shared males and females, married and divorced/widowed (but not singles), as well as subjects of all age groups (except for immigrants in their forties). The two-phase pattern of distress obtained according to cross-sectional data was indirectly confirmed through a longitudinal way. Claims of early euphoric or distress-free period followed by mental health crisis frequently referred to in the literature on migration was not supported by this study.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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