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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2009 May;55(3):203-13. doi: 10.1177/0020764008093445.

Psychotic symptoms and general health in a socially disadvantaged migrant community in Bologna.

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Institute of Psychiatry, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.



Social exclusion and reduced access to community health services can lead to urgent health problems among immigrants; this may explain their increasing rate of admittance to psychiatric inpatient units. This cross-sectional study aims to evaluate the prevalence of psychotic symptoms among Romanian immigrants living in very poor conditions at an abandoned hotel in Bologna and to highlight the possible correlation with general health status, distress and socio-demographic characteristics.


The Psychosis Screening Questionnaire (PSQ) and General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12) were administered to all immigrants residing at the hotel during two index days with the help of a cultural mediator. Socio-demographic, migration and health characteristics were also collected.


Sixty eight subjects were evaluated. More than 80% had left Romania for economic reasons. Of immigrants, 57% exceeded the four-point GHQ-12 threshold of potential mental disorder and 19% scored positively at the PSQ. Immigrants with positive PSQ showed higher mean GHQ-12 scores (5.9 +/- 3.5 vs. 3.8 +/- 2.75; p = 0.02). The development of post-migration health problems significantly predicts positive PSQ cases even after adjusting for age, sex and GHQ-12 dichotomized score (OR = 21.2, CI = 1.1-169.4).


This community of immigrants living in deprived conditions showed a high prevalence of distress and psychotic symptoms, related to health problems. Preventing excess of psychosis among immigrants and ethnic minorities in critical socio-economic conditions should mean, first and foremost, facilitating social integration and access to primary care.

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