Self-perceived workplace discrimination and mental health among immigrant workers in Italy: a cross-sectional study.
AuthorsDi Napoli, A
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AbstractBackground: The process of immigration is associated with poor mental and physical health. While the workplace represents an important context of social integration, previous studies evaluating the effect of discrimination experienced in the workplace found worse mental health status among immigrants. The aim of this study was to investigate whether self-perceived workplace discrimination has any role in the mental health status of immigrants living and working in Italy, evaluating the contribution of other personal experiences, such as loneliness and life satisfaction. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on a sample of 12,408 immigrants (aged 15-64) living and working in Italy. Data were derived from the first national survey on immigrants carried out by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat). Mental health status was measured through the Mental Component Summary (MCS) of the SF-12 questionnaire. A linear multivariate linear regression was carried out to evaluate the association between mental health status, self-perceived workplace discrimination, and sociodemographic factors; path analysis was used to quantify the mediation effect of self-perceived loneliness, level of life satisfaction, and the Physical Component Summary (PCS). Results: Mental health status was inversely associated (p < 0.001) with self-perceived workplace discrimination (β:-1.737), self-perceived loneliness (β:-2.653), and physical health status (β:-0.089); it was directly associated with level of life satisfaction (β:1.122). As confirmed by the path analysis, the effect of self-perceived workplace discrimination on MCS was mediated by the other factors considered: self-perceived loneliness (11.9%), level of life satisfaction (20.7%), and physical health status (3.9%). Conclusions: Our study suggests that self-perceived workplace discrimination is associated with worse mental health status in immigrant workers through personal experiences in the workplace and explains the effect of the exposure to workplace discrimination on immigrants' psychological well-being. Our findings suggest that an overall public health response is needed to facilitate the social integration of immigrants and their access to health services, particularly those services that address mental health issues.