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Open Access Research article

Bicultural identity among economical migrants from three south European countries living in Switzerland. Adaptation and validation of a new psychometric instrument

Ariel Eytan*, Nuria Jene-Petschen and Marianne Gex-Fabry

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry, Adult Psychiatric Service, Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland

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BMC Psychiatry 2007, 7:17  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-7-17

Published: 9 May 2007

Abstract

Background

Acculturation is one of the determinants of mental health among immigrants. Evaluating adaptation to the host culture is insufficient, since immigrants will develop various degrees of bi- or multicultural identity. However, mental health professionals lack simple and easy to use instruments to guide them with bicultural identity evaluation in their practice. Our aim was to develop such an instrument to be used for clinical purposes among economical migrants from three South European countries living in Geneva, Switzerland.

Methods

We adapted from existing instruments a 24 item bi-dimensional scale to assess involvement in both culture of origin and host culture. The study included 93 immigrant adults from three south European countries (Italy, Portugal and Spain). Thirty-eight patients were recruited in an outpatient treatment program for alcohol-related problems and 55 participants were hospital employees.

Results

The questionnaire was rated as easy or rather easy by 97.8% of participants. Median time to complete it was 5 minutes. The instrument allowed discriminating between patients and healthy subjects, with scores for Swiss culture significantly higher among hospital workers. The subscales related to culture of origin and host culture displayed adequate internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha 0.77 and 0.73 respectively).

Conclusion

It is possible to assist clinicians' assessment of cultural identity of Italian, Portuguese and Spanish economical immigrants in Switzerland with a single and easy to use instrument.