Geographical Disparities and Settlement Factors and Mental Health of Refugees Living in Germany

Gerard Leavey, Julian Grabo

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1) Background: Approximately half of all refugees living in Germany experience discrimination, which may negatively affect their mental health. Moreover, German refugees have experienced hostility, especially in eastern regions. (2) Aims: We examined the effect of perceived discrimination on refugees’ mental health in Germany, with a particular focus on possible regional differences of refugee mental health and perceived discrimination. (3) Method: The data of 2075 refugees who arrived in Germany between 2013 and 2016, from a large-scale survey, was analysed using binary logistic regression. The refugee health screener, 13-item version, was used to assess psychological distress. All effects were investigated for the entire sample and both sexes independently. (4) Results: A third of refugees experienced discrimination which increased the risk of psychological distress (OR = 2.25 (1.80–2.8). Those living in eastern Germany were more than twice as likely to report experiences of discrimination, compared to their counterparts living in western Germany (OR = 2.52, [1.98–3.21). Differences were noted between males and females, and religious attendance. (5) Conclusions: Perceived discrimination is a risk factor for refugee mental health, particularly female refugees in eastern Germany. An east–west regional difference may be explained by socio-structural factors, rural placement, differential historical exposure to migrant populations, and a greater presence of right-wing and populist parties in eastern Germany.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4409
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Early online date1 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 1 Mar 2023

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  • refugees
  • geography
  • mental health
  • discrimination


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