Do outcomes of psychiatric hospital treatment differ for migrants and non-migrants?

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2021 Nov;56(11):1957-1965. doi: 10.1007/s00127-021-02103-y. Epub 2021 May 24.


Purpose: Providing effective treatment for immigrants is an increasing challenge for mental health services across Europe. Yet, little is known as to whether current practice is associated with different outcomes in migrant and non-migrant patients. We compared outcomes of inpatient psychiatric treatment for migrants and non-migrants in a sample from five European countries.

Methods: Patients with psychotic disorders, affective disorders or anxiety/somatisation disorders admitted to routine psychiatric inpatient treatment were assessed in hospitals in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom. Treatment outcomes were satisfaction with care during hospitalisation, length of stay, readmission to hospital (any and, specifically, involuntary re-hospitalisation), as well as untoward incidents in a 1-year follow-up period. Outcomes were compared between patients born inside (non-migrants) and outside (migrants) the country of treatment, through mixed regression models.

Results: Across all sites, 985 migrant patients and 6298 non-migrant patients were included. After accounting for the influence of confounding patient characteristics, migrants reported significantly lower treatment satisfaction, but there were no significant differences for length of stay and re-hospitalisations, in general and involuntary ones. Migrants had a lower rate of suicide attempts, but there was no significant difference in other types of untoward incidents in the year following the index admission.

Conclusion: The study suggests that migrants are less satisfied with their hospital treatment, there is no evidence that routine inpatient care as currently provided results overall in poorer objective outcomes for migrants than in non-migrant populations.

Keywords: Europe; Hospital care; Inpatient; Mental illness; Migration.

MeSH terms

  • Germany
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Psychotic Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders* / therapy
  • Transients and Migrants*