Mental Disorders in Iranian and Afghan Immigrant Women: the impact of acculturation

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Community Medicine, Neuroscience Research Center, Institute of Neuropharmacology, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

2 Department of Social Sciences, Human Sciences School, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran

3 Medical Student, Preventive Medicine and Public Health Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Public Health, Sirjan School of Medical Sciences, Sirjan, Iran

5 Department of Statistics and Epidemiology, Research Center for Modeling in Health, Institute for Futures Studies in Health, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran


Background: There are many mental health challenges associated with immigration. Culture has a notable impact on the mental health of immigrants. The inability to adapt to the new culture is effective in developing mental health problems. Acculturation is a dynamic process that involves multiple aspects of adjustment to a new environment. Various acculturation levels and processes are associated with mental health problems. However, this association is complex and can vary for different groups of migrants. The primary goal of the present study was to study the relationship between acculturation and mental health among Afghan immigrant women compared to Iranian women.
Methods: The study included about 400 immigrant Iranian and Afghan women. Participants answered questions regarding age, marital status, education, occupation, religion, length of stay in Iran (in the Afghan participants), study in Iranian schools (in the Afghan participants) and the neighborhood characteristics where you live (with a majority of Iranian neighbors, a majority of Afghan neighbors and an equal population of both) and economic status. Information about mental health status and acculturation was also obtained through a self-administered questionnaire.
Results: The severity of mental illness among the three groups of Iranians, Afghans with low acculturation, and Afghans with high acculturation was significantly different (0 < 0.001). While mental disorders among Afghan women with high and low acculturation differed, this difference was not statistically significant. Some of the demographic features, such as widowhood, neighborhood features, socioeconomic status, and religion, had affected mental disorders in the two acculturated groups.
Conclusion: In societies with strong cultural similarities, individual factors and ethnic solidarity seem to be more crucial to the mental health of immigrants.


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