Risk of mental disorders in family reunification migrants and native Danes: a register-based historically prospective cohort study

Int J Public Health. 2010 Oct;55(5):413-9. doi: 10.1007/s00038-010-0162-3. Epub 2010 Jun 30.


Objectives: Although family reunification migrants form a large proportion of migrants, their prevalence of mental disorders is unknown because research has focused on mixed groups of first generation immigrants and refugees. Our aim was to investigate the risk of mental disorders among family reunification migrants compared with that among native Danes.

Methods: Family reunification migrants (n = 31,923) were matched on age and sex with native Danes (n = 127,687). Civil registration numbers were linked to the Danish Psychiatric Central Register to obtain data on diagnosis for all first-time psychiatric hospital contacts for migrants (n = 972) and native Danes (n = 5,390) between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 2003.

Results: Overall family reunification migrants had a significantly lower risk of having a first-time psychiatric contact for mental disorders than did native Danes (RR = 0.78; 95% CI 0.71-0.87); specific risks of psychotic, affective and neurotic disorders did not differ except for migrant men, who had a higher risk of nervous disorder than that of native Danes (RR = 1.59; 95% CI 1.17; 2.17).

Conclusions: Overall, family reunification migrants had a similar or lower risk of mental disorders compared with native Danes. The results may reflect true morbidity patterns or an underestimation of mental illness due to problems of access to care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Family / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult