A link between migration status and depression burden in Luxembourg

2017 - 09 - 14

A link between migration status and depression burden in Luxembourg

Scientists from LIH’s Department of Population Health conducted a nationwide study to estimate the prevalence of depression in Luxembourg and revealed differences between non-immigrants and first and second generation immigrants.

Depression is a multifaceted psychological disorder that is thought to affect about 350 million people on the globe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers it as the leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

A precise assessment of the prevalence of depressive symptoms and associated risk factors was missing in Luxembourg. Therefore a study was conducted by Dr Maria Ruiz-Castell, scientist at the Epidemiology and Public Health Research Unit of LIH’s Department of Population Health, and co-workers, together with collaborators from LIH’s Competence Centre for Methodology and Statistics and the INSIDE Research Unit of the University of Luxembourg. It used cross-sectional data from the European Health Examination Survey conducted in Luxembourg from 2013 to 2015 (EHES-Lux). This survey included 1499 people aged between 25 and 64, a representative sample of the country’s resident population. Participants completed a standardised Patient Health Questionnaire that assesses self-reported symptoms of depression based on nine diagnosis criteria for depressive disorders.

‘We found that the prevalence of depressive symptoms was 21.5% overall, 16.6% in men and 26.2% in women’, states project leader Dr Ruiz-Castell. These results are comparable with those of other studies conducted in different parts of the world. The study also investigated whether there were differences between non-immigrants and first and second generation immigrants.

A particularity of Luxembourg is its stable and attractive economy that favours immigration. In 2014, Luxembourg was the country with the highest immigration rate in the European Union. Currently, 46% of the residents are non-Luxembourgers. Given this high proportion, the scientists decided to investigate whether there is an association between depressive symptoms and immigration status. ‘We could indeed observe differences between non-immigrants and immigrants, both in men and women’, says Dr Ruiz-Castell. Immigrants, especially second generation immigrants, meaning those born in Luxembourg with at least one parent born in a country other than Luxembourg, were found to be at higher risk for depressive symptoms compared to non-immigrants. ‘Challenges of integration or emotional internal conflict of being from two cultures could be possible explanations for this finding, but this would need to be investigated further’, she explains.

This study will appear in the November 2017 issue of the “Journal of Affective Disorders”, but is already available online.

Here you can read the abstract:

Depression burden in Luxembourg: Individual risk factors, geographic variations and the role of migration, 2013–2015 European Health Examination Survey