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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2014 May;60(3):299-303. doi: 10.1177/0020764013487653. Epub 2013 Jun 5.

Language proficiency among hospitalized immigrant psychiatric patients in Italy.

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1
1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Univeristy of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

and aim: Lack of cultural adaptation may risk or worsen mental illness among immigrants, and interfere with assessment and treatment. Language proficiency (LP) seems essential for access to foreign environments, and the limited research concerning its effects on mental health care encouraged this preliminary study.

METHODS:

We reviewed clinical records of all immigrant psychiatric patients hospitalized at the University of Foggia in 2004-09 (N = 85), and compared characteristics of patients with adequate versus inadequate LP.

RESULTS:

Subjects (44 men, 41 women; aged 35.7±10.0 years) represented 3.62±0.94% of all hospitalizations in six years. (2004-09). Most (60.0%) had emigrated from other European countries. Many were diagnosed with a DSM-IV unspecified psychosis (40.0%) or adjustment disorder (18.8%), and 45.9% were in first-lifetime episodes. Average comprehension and spoken LP was considered adequate in 62.4% and inadequate in 37.6%. In multivariate modelling, adequate LP was more prevalent among women, emigration from another European country, receiving more psychotropic drugs at hospitalization, and having entered Italy legally.

CONCLUSION:

Findings support an expected importance of LP among immigrant psychiatric inpatients, and encourage language assessment and training as part of the comprehensive support of such patients, especially men.

KEYWORDS:

Language proficiency; cultural adaptation; immigrant; mental illness

PMID:
23741004
DOI:
10.1177/0020764013487653
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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