Painful Passages: Traumatic Experiences and Post-Traumatic Stress among Immigrant Latino Adolescents and their Primary Caregivers

Int Migr Rev. 2013 Dec;47(4):10.1111/imre.12050. doi: 10.1111/imre.12050.


Using data from a stratified random sample of 281 foreign-born adolescents and their parents, this study provides data on migration-related trauma exposures and examines how the migration process influences the risk of experiencing trauma and developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We find that 29% of foreign-born adolescents and 34% of foreign-born parents experienced trauma during the migration process. Among those that experienced trauma, 9% of adolescents and 21% of their parents were at risk for PTSD. Pre-migration poverty combined with clandestine entry into the US increased the risk of trauma and the subsequent development of PTSD symptoms. Post-migration experiences of discrimination and neighborhood disorder further exacerbated this risk, while social support and familism mitigated it. Our results emphasize the importance of understanding how factors prior to, during, and after migration combine to influence the health of immigrants.

Keywords: Hispanic; Latino; PTSD; acculturation; health; immigrant; trauma.