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Migration is an established risk factor for developing a psychotic disorder in countries with a long history of migration. Less is known for countries with only a recent history of migration. This study aimed to determine the risk for developing a psychotic disorder in migrants to the Republic of Ireland.
We included all presentations of first-episode psychosis over 8.5 years to the DETECT Early Intervention for psychosis service in the Republic of Ireland (573 individuals aged 18–65, of whom 22% were first-generation migrants). Psychotic disorder diagnosis relied on SCID. The at-risk population was calculated using census data, and negative binomial regression was used to estimate incidence rate ratios.
The annual crude incidence rate for a first-episode psychotic disorder in the total cohort was 25.62 per 100000 population at risk. Migrants from Africa had a nearly twofold increased risk for developing a psychotic disorder compared to those born in the Republic of Ireland (IRR = 1.83, 95% CI 1.11–3.02, p = 0.02). In contrast, migrants from certain Asian countries had a reduced risk, specifically those from China, India, Philippines, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Hong Kong (aIRR = 0.36, 95% CI 0.16–0.81, p = 0.01).
Further research into the reasons for this inflated risk in specific migrant groups could produce insights into the aetiology of psychotic disorders. This information should also be used, alongside other data on environmental risk factors that can be determined from census data, to predict the incidence of psychotic disorders and thereby resource services appropriately.
Certain migrant groups are at an increased risk of psychotic disorders compared to the native-born population; however, research to date has mainly been conducted in Europe. Less is known about whether migrants to other countries, with different histories and patterns of migration, such as Australia, are at an increased risk for developing a psychotic disorder. We tested this for first-generation migrants in Melbourne, Victoria.
This study included all young people aged 15–24 years, residing in a geographically-defined catchment area of north western Melbourne who presented with a first episode of psychosis (FEP) to the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2016. Data pertaining to the at-risk population were obtained from the Australian 2011 Census and incidence rate ratios were calculated and adjusted for age, sex and social deprivation.
In total, 1220 young people presented with an FEP during the 6-year study period, of whom 24.5% were first-generation migrants. We found an increased risk for developing psychotic disorder in migrants from the following regions: Central and West Africa (adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR] = 3.53, 95% CI 1.58–7.92), Southern and Eastern Africa (aIRR = 3.06, 95% CI 1.99–4.70) and North Africa (aIRR = 5.03, 95% CI 3.26–7.76). Migrants from maritime South East Asia (aIRR = 0.39, 95% CI 0.23–0.65), China (aIRR = 0.25, 95% CI 0.13–0.48) and Southern Asia (aIRR = 0.44, 95% CI 0.26–0.76) had a decreased risk for developing a psychotic disorder.
This clear health inequality needs to be addressed by sufficient funding and accessible mental health services for more vulnerable groups. Further research is needed to determine why migrants have an increased risk for developing psychotic disorders.
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