Acculturative stress as a risk factor of depression and anxiety in the Latin American immigrant population

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2011;23(1):84-92. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2010.545988.


This study explores acculturative stress as a risk factor for depressive and anxiety disorders as well as their symptomatology. It is hypothesized that perceived discrimination and general psychosocial stress will show the greatest association with psychopathology. The sample consists of 414 Latin American immigrant primary care patients in Barcelona. The instruments used are: the Barcelona Immigration Stress Scale (BISS) to evaluate acculturative stress, the Goldberg Anxiety and Depression Scale (GADS) for anxiety and depression symptoms, the Mini International Neurological Interview (MINI), a semi-structured interview, to detect psychiatric pathology, and a questionnaire for sociodemographic and attitudinal characteristics. The most elevated levels of acculturative stress were observed in the factors homesickness and general psychosocial stress. Acculturative stress is associated with depression and anxiety. With the covariants controlled, intercultural contact stress and general psychosocial stress maintain the relationship. Acculturative stress constitutes a risk factor for both depression and anxiety. General psychosocial stress and intercultural contact stress are related to psychopathology. Perceived discrimination and homesickness are not associated with psychopathology in the Spanish context, suggesting that cultural congruity plays a key role in the relationship between immigration and mental health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latin America / ethnology
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychological Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Young Adult