Ethnic identification, social disadvantage, and mental health in adolescence/young adulthood: results of a 25 year longitudinal study

Dannette Marie, David M. Fergusson, Joseph M. Boden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To examine the role of cultural identity and social disadvantage/childhood adversity in a birth cohort of 984 young people studied to the age of 25.
Methods: Data were gathered on mental health, cultural identification, socioeconomic factors and childhood adversity as part of a longitudinal study of a New Zealand birth cohort ( the Christchurch Health and Development Study).
Results: Those with sole Maori identity had rates of disorder that were 1.28-fold higher than those of non-Maori; those of Maori/other identity had rates of disorder that were 1.57-fold higher than non-Maori. Regression analyses suggested that the elevated rates of mental disorder among Maori were largely explained by their higher exposure to socioeconomic disadvantage and childhood adversity. But even after adjustment, being of sole Maori identity was a protective factor that reduced rates of mental disorder among Maori.
Conclusions: Risk and protective factors associated with the mental health of young Maori involve an interplay between levels of exposure to social disadvantage/childhood adversity and cultural identity, with secure cultural identity being a factor that may mitigate the effects of exposure to adversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-300
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • ethnic identity
  • longitudinal study
  • mental health
  • New Zealand Maori
  • New-Zealand
  • Maori
  • experience
  • world
  • need

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