Vulnerability to stress in migratory contexts: a study with Eastern European immigrants residing in Portugal.
The assessment of individual vulnerability to stress emerges as a predictive factor of a higher risk of developing stress-related disorders. In the last decade, the geography of immigration in Portugal experienced intense transformations in terms of recruitment and patterns of geographic settlement, with an increasing and exponential inflow of new and diversified migratory groups. The immigrant populations coming from Eastern European countries are a recent migratory flow, with linguistic, cultural and socio-demographic specificities which are very different from the general Portuguese population. This makes them a paradigmatic group in potential transcultural studies on mental health issues. The primary aim of the study was to describe the characteristics of vulnerability to stress and determine their impact on the mental health status of Russian-speaking immigrants residing in Portugal. The relationship between vulnerability to stress, sociodemographic variables, mental health status and social support were analyzed, using the SSQ6, GHQ28, 23QVS and a socio-demographic questionnaire. A comparative analysis was carried out, using a control group of 110 Portuguese subjects without previous migratory experiences, matched by sex, age group and academic qualifications. The eastern European immigrants reported high levels of vulnerability to stress assessed by the cut-off point of the 23QVS. Immigrants also reported higher percentage of vulnerability to stress and lower social support levels of social support versus the control group. Several factors inherent to the dynamics of the migratory process were related to the presence of vulnerability to stress. The findings suggest that vulnerability to stress is positively correlated with worse mental health outcomes and negatively correlated with the social support perceived as available--number of supporters and satisfaction with social support.
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