The association between mental health problems and inflammatory conditions across gender and immigrant status: a population-based cross-sectional study among 10th-grade students.Scand J Public Health. 2008 Jun; 36(4):353-60.SJ
The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of and investigate the association between mental health problems, asthma, allergy and eczema in Norwegian and immigrant youths.
A cross-sectional study was performed of all 10th-grade students in Oslo, Norway, in two school years; 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. Of the 8316 eligible students, 7345 (88.3%) participated. Internalized mental problems were measured using the Hopkins Symptom Check List 10-version, and two subscales of the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire were used to study externalizing mental health problems. All questions are based on self-report, and 25% of the sample had an immigrant background.
Immigrant boys had higher scores on internalizing problems than Norwegian boys. First-generation immigrants reported less asthma and eczema than Norwegians. The strongest association between mental health problems and inflammatory conditions was for allergy and internalizing problems for boys (odds ratio (OR)=2.5 for immigrants and OR=1.8 for Norwegians). For girls, it was allergy in Norwegians (OR=1.6) and asthma for immigrants (OR=2.2). For externalizing problems, the association was strongest for asthma in boys and eczema in girls. Immigrant boys had stronger associations between number of inflammatory conditions and internalizing mental health problems than Norwegians (OR=3.2 vs. OR=2.4). Among girls, the figures were 1.7 for Norwegians and 1.8 for immigrants.
There is a strong association between number of inflammatory conditions and internalizing mental health problems, especially among boys with an immigrant background. The association with externalizing mental health problems was less prominent.