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Qualifications (6)


Status Complete
Part Time No
Years 2011 - 2015
Project Title Psychological distress in Polish immigrants in Scotland: a mixed methods study
Project Description Background: The available research on economic migration suggested that immigrants may be less happy than the indigenous populations. It was found that relatively stable dispositional factors such as optimism, and cognitive-behavioural factors such as income did not play an important role. Although useful, these studies did not examine a comprehensive range of predictors and most were not theoretically based. Furthermore all were based on quantitative designs and thus were unable to explain the relationship between these factors and well-being. Indeed, no qualitative studies have been conducted in the area of research.
Aims: The aims of this study were to identify the level and determinants of well-being among Polish economic migrants living in Scotland, using a comprehensive range of predictors; to establish the extent to which the findings are supported by theory - the Sustainable Happiness Model (SHM) - and to provide greater insight into how factors have affected immigrants' well-being.

Research Design & Methods: A sequential mixed-methods design was used in which the qualitative phase explains quantitative results in more detail. in the first phase, 188 participants selected by a combination of snowball sampling and advertising, completed questionnaires which were analysed by means of univariate and multivariate statistics. The second phase included semi-structured interviews with a subsample of 17 participants. The interviewees were selected using purposive sampling in the form of extreme case sampling, on the basis of the high/low scores on the predictors identified in the quantitative analysis. Transcripts of interviews were analysed by a thematic analysis.
Results: Participants reported high levels of well-being. An earlier age at migration, good health and a proficient level of English predicted high well-being levels. The greater use of emotion-focussed coping, problem-focussed coping, higher social support, religiousness and tendency to make downward social comparisons, all predicted higher well-being levels. Emotion-focussed coping was the strongest predictor of all examined factors. Cognitive-behavioural and circumstantial factors accounted for more variance in well-being than personality, which contradicts the SHM that personality accounts for most variance in well-being. The qualitative study suggested that immigrants' adjustment process to a new country, their cultural values and the socio-economic background in their home country may explain such findings.

Conclusions: The present findings contribute to the literature on economic migrants' mental health, in demonstrating that despite facing adaptation challenges and acculturative stress, migrants are capable of being happy. The findings demonstrate that emotion-focussed coping can be more adaptive than problem-focussed coping for immigrants who face difficult to change, adverse circumstances. The findings in relation to age at migration, perceived health status and language proficiency making a direct contribution to well-being, build on the previous research, which concluded that circumstantial factors have a minor impact on immigrants' well-being. The findings indicate the SHM, that was based on studies conducted on general populations from Western, rich, individualistic countries, may not be applicable to migrant populations from non-Western, collectivist cultures. A new well-being model is proposed which posits that well-being is explained mostly by cognitive-behavioural factors and circumstances. The study encourages future research to test the revised model across diverse populations. The study encourages future research to test the revised model across diverse populations. The study recommends the use of self-help cognitive-behavioural techniques to help maintain high well-being levels among immigrations.
Awarding Institution Edinburgh Napier University
Director of Studies Thanos Karatzias