Psychological distress among Chinese immigrants to the USA

Mei Ching Lee, Erika Friedmann, Karan Kverno, Robin Newhouse, Dou Zhang, Sue Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Migration is a major life event that alters the functioning of individuals, often leading to the disruption of families and other social networks. When adaptation and coping fail, psychological distress may result. The purpose of this study is to examine the prevalence of psychological distress and to identify risk factors associated with the development of psychological distress symptoms in Chinese immigrants. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in a Chinese community in Maryland, USA. A total of 247 people completed the survey. Descriptive statistics were used to describe demographic and prevalence data. Differences in means of psychological distress scores by group were examined with t-tests and analysis of variance. Multiple regression analysis was used to test multiple predictors of psychological distress scores. The prevalence of psychological distress among Chinese immigrants in this study was 22.3%, double the expected frequency in the general US population. Being younger, self-reported with poor health and financial strain predicted the development of psychological distress. The relatively high prevalence of psychological distress in adult Chinese immigrants has important implications for healthcare professionals in the area of cross-cultural mental health. Recommendations center on routine screening for psychological distress and building capacity for culturally sensitive interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-161
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015


  • Chinese immigrants
  • community
  • culture
  • mental health
  • psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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