Associations among migration risk factors, cultural identity conflict, and psychological symptoms among Syrian emerging adults with refugee backgrounds in the Netherlands

In the present study, we examined relations between premigration, perimigration, and postmigration risk factors (i.e., potentially traumatic events [PTEs], postmigration living problems [PMLPs], stressful life events) and psychological symptoms (i.e., anxiety/depression, posttraumatic stress) in Syrian emerging adults with refugee backgrounds; we also tested cultural identity conflict as a possible mediator of these relations. We expected that greater exposure to migration risk factors was associated with more psychological symptoms and that higher cultural identity conflict would contribute to these associations.


We used data from the first wave of Karakter, a longitudinal study of 158 Syrians with refugee backgrounds (69.0% men, age range 18–35). Participants completed a questionnaire assessing PTEs, PMLPs, stressful life events, cultural identity conflict, and symptoms of anxiety/depression and posttraumatic stress.


Correlational analyses indicated that more PTEs and stressful life events were related to higher levels of cultural identity conflict and more psychological symptoms. Furthermore, greater cultural identity conflict was associated with more psychological symptoms. We did not observe indirect effects of cultural identity conflict in the mediation analyses.


Results suggest that postmigration stressors and cultural identity conflict are associated with psychological symptoms among Syrian emerging adults who have resettled in the Netherlands.

Haza F. Rahim, Trudy T. M. Mooren, Jeroen W. Knipscheer, Femke van den Brink, Joanne M. Chung, Odilia M. Laceulle, Paul A. Boelen | 2023
In: Journal of Clinical Psychology ; ISSN: 1097-4679 | 79 | 5 | 1434-1451
Adults, Anxiety Symptoms, Cultural Values, Depressive Symptoms, Identity, Instruments, Longitudinal Study, Mental health, Migration, Netherlands, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Potentially Traumatic Events (PTEs), Predictors, Psychological distress, Quality of Life, Refugees, Research, Syrians