Assessing Predictors of Emotional Distress by Immigrant Type: An Exploration of Adult Refugees, Asylees, and SIV Holders in Maryland

Aafreen A. Mahmood, Dipti D. Shah, Georgia J. Michlig, Mary Elizabeth Hughes, Judith Bass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Stressors and trauma experienced by persons fleeing harm or persecution can cause elevated distress. This study assessed predictors of elevated distress among newly arrived refugees, asylees, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders in Maryland. A secondary analysis of Refugee Health Screener-15 data from 4385 refugees, asylees, and SIV holders arriving in Maryland from 2014 to 2017 was conducted. Mean scores were compared across immigrant groups, and positive screening predictors were identified using logistic regression. Mean scores were highest among SIV holders and lowest among asylees. Compared to refugees, SIV holders had greater odds of screening positive; significance was reduced after adjusting for covariates. A significant interaction term was found for SIV women, who had 1.74 greater odds than SIV males. Distress varied between immigrant groups, with asylees having lowest odds of screening positive. SIV women’s significant results may owe to acculturation distress, disrupted gender expectations, and resettlement difficulties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Asylees
  • Emotional distress
  • Refugees
  • SIV holders
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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