Migration and mental health among Dominican immigrants living in New York City: A comparison of two migration-mental health models

Angelica Maria Perez, Fordham University


The experience of cross-cultural migration is a significant source of stress. In addition to the sociocultural variables that contribute to psychological distress, personal characteristics associated with immigrants' healthy adjustment and psychological well-being were examined, and the predictive power of two migration-mental health models were compared. Consistent with Rogler's (1994) migration-mental health model, a sociocultural model, the study examined the relationship between three migration-related stressors (i.e., acculturation, alterations in socioeconomic status, and alterations in family support) and psychological distress in a sample of 127 Dominican immigrants living in New York City. The role of personal characteristics on this relationship was examined by adding three personal characteristics to the sociocultural model (i.e., hardiness, gender-role attitudes, and ethnic identity), resulting in a psychosocial model. Participants (78 females and 49 males) completed a set of scales measuring migration-related stressors, personal characteristics, and psychological distress variables (i.e., depressive, anxiety, and somatization symptomatology). Psychiatric history was controlled for in all analyses. Contrary to the assumptions of the sociocultural model, the sample did not report significant levels of migration-related stressors. However, the sample, women more so than men, reported considerable depressive symptomatology. Multiple regression analyses revealed that personal characteristics, and not migration-related stressors, had a direct effect on psychological distress. Hardiness, in particular, had the largest effect on psychological well-being. Results suggest that the context of reception (i.e., Dominican ethnic communities) appears to buffer the migration-related stressors articulated in the sociocultural model. The findings also indicate the significant role of personal characteristics on immigrant's adjustment and psychological well-being. Further research, using qualitative methods, is recommended to uncover the source of stress producing the significant levels of depressive symptomatology reported by the present sample; such research efforts will contribute to the development of migration-mental health models relevant to the Dominican migratory experience. A model including the psychological variables embedded in the psychosocial model deserves further research attention.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Personality|Mental health|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Perez, Angelica Maria, "Migration and mental health among Dominican immigrants living in New York City: A comparison of two migration-mental health models" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9825851.