Family networks during migration and risk of non-affective psychosis: A population-based cohort study

Schizophr Res. 2019 Jun:208:268-275. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2019.01.044. Epub 2019 Feb 7.


Objective: The determinants of increased psychosis risk among immigrants remain unclear. Given ethnic density may be protective, we investigated whether the presence of immediate family, or "family networks", at time of immigration was associated with risk of non-affective psychosis.

Methods: We followed a cohort of migrants (n = 838,717) to Sweden, born 1968-1997, from their 14th birthday, or earliest immigration thereafter, until diagnosis of non-affective psychosis (ICD-9/ICD-10), emigration, death, or 2011. Using record linkage, we measured family network as the presence of adult first-degree relatives immigrating with the cohort participant or already residing in Sweden. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to examine whether risk varied between those migrating with family, migrating to join family, or migrating alone.

Results: Migrating with immediate family was associated with increased psychosis risk amongst males compared to males who did not migrate with family (adjusted Hazard Ratio [aHR]: 1.16, 95% CI: 1.00-1.34). Migrating with family did not increase risk among females (aHR: 0.91, 95% CI: 0.78-1.07); similar observations were observed for males who immigrated to join family (aHR: 1.35, 95% CI: 1.21-1.51). In contrast, females who migrated alone were at increased risk compared to females who did not migrate alone (aHR: 1.31, 95% CI: 1.11-1.54).

Conclusion: Family networks at the time of immigration were associated with differential patterns of non-affective psychotic disorders for males and females. These results suggest sex-specific differences in the perceived role of family networks during the migration process.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Family network; Psychotic disorder; Social capital.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Family* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Sweden
  • Young Adult