Somatic perception, cultural differences and immigration: results from administration of the Modified Somatic Perception Questionnaire (MSPQ) to a sample of immigrants
Nicola Luigi Bragazzi, Giovanni Del Puente, Werner Maria Natta
Department of Neuroscience, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics, Maternal and Child Health, Section of Psychiatry, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
Abstract: The number of immigrants in Italy has doubled every 10 years from 1972 and Genoa hosts two large communities of immigrants from South America and Africa. We investigated differences in the somatic perception between immigrants and Italians and between South Americans and Africans living in the city of Genoa. During a 7 month period, an anonymous questionnaire asking for sociodemographic information and the Modified Somatic Perception Questionnaire (MSPQ) were administered to all immigrants accessing an outpatient clinic or the general practitioners offices. MSPQ mean scores were significantly higher in immigrant patients than in Italian patients, after adjusting for sex and age differences. We found no differences between South Americans and Africans in MSPQ score. The tendency to express discomfort through physical symptoms appears to be related to being a foreigner who arrived in Italy through a migratory trip and also to being a person who comes from a cultural context that is very different from the one of developed countries.
Keywords: immigrants, Modified Somatic Perception Questionnaire (MSPQ), somatization, transcultural psychiatry
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