Objective: Despite the high rate of migration from low- and middle-income countries to high-income countries, there is still a lack of comprehensive studies of gender-specific differences in psychological distress in a diverse group of immigrants. We compared psychological distress between male and female immigrants from low- and middle-income countries living in Oslo, and identified factors associated with distress for men and women, separately.
Method: A cross-sectional survey with self-administered questionnaires was conducted among 1536 immigrants from low- and middle-income countries living in Oslo. The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-10) was used to measure psychological distress. Data on their sociodemographic characteristics, negative and traumatic life events, and social integration and possible discrimination in the Norwegian society were also collected.
Results: One-fourth of the study population was found to be psychologically distressed, with almost equal levels among men and women. Lack of salaried job and recent negative life events were independently associated with psychological distress for both genders. Furthermore, experience of denial of job and past traumatic experiences were other associated negative factors among men, while visits made by Norwegians appeared as a protective factor against distress among men. Older age, Middle East background, living without a partner, and experiencing denial of housing were other associated negative factors among women.
Conclusion: Our findings show that, except for adverse living conditions, there are gender differences with regard to factors associated with psychological distress among immigrants living in Oslo. Such gender issues are relevant for assisting immigrants in the integration process as well as for future research in migration and health.