“One Scar Too Many:” The Associations Between Traumatic Events and Psychological Distress Among Undocumented Mexican Immigrants

Luz M. Garcini, Juan M. Peña, Angela P. Gutierrez, Christopher P. Fagundes, Hector Lemus, Suzanne Lindsay, Elizabeth A. Klonoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Undocumented immigration often presents with multiple stressors and contextual challenges, which may diminish mental health. This study is the first to provide population-based estimates for the prevalence of traumatic events and its association to clinically significant psychological distress among undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States. This cross-sectional study used respondent-driven sampling to obtain and analyze data from clinical interviews with 248 undocumented Mexican immigrants residing in high-risk neighborhoods near the California-Mexico border. Overall, 82.7% of participants reported a history of traumatic events, with 47.0% of these meeting the criteria for clinically significant psychological distress. After controlling for relevant covariates, having experienced material deprivation, odds ratio (OR) = 2.26, 95% CI [1.18, 4.31], p =.013, and bodily injury, OR = 2.96, 95% CI [1.50, 5.83], p =.002, and not having a history of deportation, OR = 0.36, 95% CI [0.17, 0.79], p =.011, were associated with clinically significant psychological distress. These results support the need to revisit health and immigration policies and to devise solutions grounded in empirical evidence aimed at preventing the negative effects of trauma and psychological distress in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-462
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume30
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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