BACKGROUND: Migration, for various reasons, continues to increase the immigrant population of Norway. Few studies compare adolescent ethnic Norwegians (EN) with adolescent immigrants for their health status and health behavior. This study describes differences in health status and health behavior between adolescent EN and immigrant groups from Pakistan, Somalia and Vietnam (PSV) seen as one group, and also between EN and each of the three immigrant groups. It also examines whether age at arrival in Norway and parental education impact health status and health behavior for each of the three immigrant groups.
METHODS: In 2006, the Norwegian Social Research (NOVA), in cooperation with the city of Oslo (Drug Competence Center), carried out a questionnaire survey in Oslo schools for 11,500 pupils aged 14-17. 10,880 individuals answered the questionnaire (response rate of 93%). Health status in terms of self-assessed health, mental health status and chronic physical illness and health behavior in terms of smoking, alcohol use, snuff use, cannabis use, eating problems and regular physical activity were analyzed for the PSV- immigrant groups. The explanatory variables were age at arrival in Norway and the educational level of their parents (parents’ education).
RESULTS: No differences in mental health status were identified between the groups. However, fewer Pakistani immigrants assessed their health status as good or excellent and fewer Somali immigrants reported chronic physical illness compared to EN. The PSV- immigrant groups had less risky health behavior, such as smoking and use of snuff and alcohol, but at the same time less regular physical activities. Higher parents’ education was associated with a better mental health status, less alcohol use, and less use of drugs for immigrants from Somalia and more regular physical activities for Pakistani immigrants. Age at arrival was associated with more physical activities and less use of cannabis for the Pakistani group.
CONCLUSION: In this thesis, PSV- immigrants’ health status and health behavior differ from that of EN in adolescence. Interestingly, adolescent immigrants have less health-risky behavior, but at the same time less health-degrading behavior. All these differences are only partly explained by factors such as the age at arrival in Norway and the level of parents’ education.