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Glob Health Action. 2013 Jun 19;6:20187. doi: 10.3402/gha.v6i0.20187.

Migration background and juvenile mental health: a descriptive retrospective analysis of diagnostic rates of psychiatric disorders in young people.

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  • 1Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.



This article presents diagnostic rates for specific mental disorders in a German pediatric inpatient population over a period of 20 years with respect to migration background and socioeconomic status (SES).


Diagnostic data were obtained over a period of 20 years from 8,904 patients who visited a child and adolescent psychiatry mental health service in Germany. Data from 5,985 diagnosed patients (ICD-9 and ICD-10 criteria) were included with respect to gender, migration background, and SES.


Migration- and gender-specific effects were found for both periods of assessment. The group of boys with a migration background showed significantly higher rates of reactions to severe stress, adjustment disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder compared to their male, non-migrant counterparts. Conversely, boys without a migration background showed a significantly higher percentage rate of hyperkinetic disorders than male migrants. Similar results were found for female migrants in the latter assessment period (ICD-10). In addition, female migrants showed lower rates of emotional disorders whose onset occurs in childhood compared to their non-migrant counterparts.


Data from this investigation provide preliminary evidence that the prevalence of various psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents is influenced by migration background and SES.


adolescents; children; immigration issues; mental health; risk factors

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