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Psychosis rates are higher among some migrant groups. We hypothesized that psychosis in migrants is associated with cumulative social disadvantage during different phases of migration.
We used data from the EUropean Network of National Schizophrenia Networks studying Gene-Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) case–control study. We defined a set of three indicators of social disadvantage for each phase: pre-migration, migration and post-migration. We examined whether social disadvantage in the pre- and post-migration phases, migration adversities, and mismatch between achievements and expectations differed between first-generation migrants with first-episode psychosis and healthy first-generation migrants, and tested whether this accounted for differences in odds of psychosis in multivariable logistic regression models.
In total, 249 cases and 219 controls were assessed. Pre-migration (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.06–2.44, p = 0.027) and post-migration social disadvantages (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.02–3.51, p = 0.044), along with expectations/achievements mismatch (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.03–1.26, p = 0.014) were all significantly associated with psychosis. Migration adversities (OR 1.18, 95% CI 0.672–2.06, p = 0.568) were not significantly related to the outcome. Finally, we found a dose–response effect between the number of adversities across all phases and odds of psychosis (⩾6: OR 14.09, 95% CI 2.06–96.47, p = 0.007).
The cumulative effect of social disadvantages before, during and after migration was associated with increased odds of psychosis in migrants, independently of ethnicity or length of stay in the country of arrival. Public health initiatives that address the social disadvantages that many migrants face during the whole migration process and post-migration psychological support may reduce the excess of psychosis in migrants.
It is well established that migration and ethnic minority status are risk factors for psychotic disorders. Recent studies have aimed to determine if they are also associated with subclinical psychosis (psychotic-like experiences and schizotypal traits).
We aimed to determine to what extent migrant and ethnic minority groups are associated with higher risk of subclinical psychosis.
We conducted a systematic review, using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement, and examined findings by ethnicity, migrant status, outcomes of subclinical psychosis and host country. A meta-analysis was carried out with robust variance estimation where possible, to handle statistically dependent effect size estimates.
We included 28 studies (19 studies on psychotic-like experiences and 9 studies on schizotypal traits) and found that ethnicity, but not migrant status, was associated with current and lifetime psychotic-like experiences. In the narrative analysis, we observed the effect of psychosocial risk factors on this association: Black ethnicity groups showed consistent increased prevalence of current and lifetime psychotic-like experiences compared with the reference population across countries.
More generalisable and standardised cohort studies of psychotic-like experiences and schizotypal traits in relation to migration/ethnicity are necessary to examine the effects of exposures and outcomes in different contexts, and to understand the underlying mechanisms of the association between subclinical psychosis and migrant and ethnic minority status.
Declaration of interest
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