Immigration trauma among hispanic youth: Missed by trauma assessments and predictive of depression and PTSD symptoms

Michael A. de Arellano, Arthur R. Andrews, Kathy Reid-Quiñones, Desi Vasquez, Lauren Silcott Doherty, Carla K. Danielson, Alyssa Rheingold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Few quantitative studies have examined the rate of exposure to traumatic events during immigration among Hispanics or its relation to mental health outcomes. Failing to capture traumatic events that occur during immigration may impede investigations of trauma and related mental health disparities with Hispanics. To better understand the need for immigration-related trauma assessment, we conducted interviews with 131 immigrant Hispanic youth. First, youth completed a comprehensive trauma assessment interview. Items were added to the interview to assess whether each traumatic event occurred during the process of immigration. An immigration-focused module was then added to the end of the assessment. A substantial minority of youths reported experiencing a traumatic event during immigration (n = 39; 29.8%). The majority of these were not captured by the standard trauma assessment (n = 32; 82.1% of those with in-transit trauma). Of these, the majority stated that the process of immigration itself was traumatic but had not indicated experiencing any event assessed during the standard trauma assessment (n = 28; 87.5% of those with unidentified in-transit trauma). The traumatic events that were not captured during the standard trauma assessment significantly predicted both depression (p < .001) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms (p = .012). Results suggest that standard trauma assessments may not capture traumatic events that occur during immigration for Hispanic youth. Failing to capture these events during trauma assessment may have large implications for research on trauma-related mental health disparities, because the events that were not captured overlapped significantly with depression and PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-174
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Latina/o Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2018



  • Depression
  • Immigration
  • Latino youth
  • PTSD
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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