Cultural impact on SAD: Social Anxiety Disorder among Ethiopian and former Soviet Union immigrants to Israel, in comparison to native-born Israelis

Kelly Hasenson-Atzmon, Sofi Marom, Tamar Sofer, Lilac Lev-Ari, Rafael Youngmann, Haggai Hermesh, Jonathan Kushnir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is linked to social norms and role expectations which are culture dependent, such as the construal of one’s self as independent or interdependent in relation to others. The current study is the first to examine SAD symptoms among Ethiopian and former Soviet Union immigrants to Israel compared to a sample of native Israelis. We investigated the relationship between SAD, ethnicity and independent/ interdependent self-construals. Methods: A total of 261 students (151 native-born Israelis, 60 Ethiopian immigrants and 50 students from the former USSR) were administrated the Liebowitz Scale (LSAS), the Self-construal Scale (SCS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and a socio-demographic questionnaire. Results: Ethiopians exhibited highest SAD scores while no differences were found between the FSU immigrants and native-born Israelis. Additionally, Ethiopians and native-born Israeli students exhibited similar high interdependence scores. Finally, SAD scores were predicted by gender, origin, independent and interdependent self-construals. Conclusion: Immigration per se is not a universal risk factor of SAD and ethnological-cultural factors do contribute specifically to SAD. A possible psychological mediator between culture and the susceptibility to SAD are the interdependence and independent self-construals. When treating immigrants, clinicians and health care providers are advised to consider the effect of cultural influence on the mental well-being and integration process of immigrants in to their host country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-55
Number of pages8
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Volume53
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016

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