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Espinoza Castro, Bernarda; Weinmann, Tobias; Mendoza Lopez, Rossana; Radon, Katja : Major Depressive Syndrome (MDS) and its association with time of residence among Spanish speaking au-pairs living in Germany - a cross-sectional study. In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health [Forthcoming]
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Abstract

The number of au-pairs in Germany is on the rise. In 2017, about 13,500 au-pairs were living in German families, almost half of them originating from non-EU countries and many of them from Spanish speaking countries. Knowledge about mental health among au-pairs in Germany is limited. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of Major Depressive Syndrome (MDS) and its potential association with time of residence among Spanish speaking au-pairs living in Germany. A cross-sectional study was carried out, which included a sample of 409 Spanish speaking au-pairs living in Germany. We classified the au-pairs into those who lived less than three weeks in Germany (newcomer au-pairs) and those who arrived two to ten months prior to the survey (experienced au-pairs). The participants were recruited by an online survey (Facebook and Instagram) from August 2018 to June 2019. Socio-demographic characteristics, time of residence in Germany and the level of education were assessed. MDS was assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire depression module (PHQ-9). Poisson regression models were calculated to evaluate the association between time of residence in Germany and prevalence of MDS. Most of the participants were female (91%). Almost half of them came from Colombia (48%) and were in the age range between 22-24 years (40%). Prevalence of MDS was 8% among newcomers and 19% among experienced au-pairs (p=0.002). Differences remained statistically significant after adjustment for potential confounders (age, level of education and time of residence in Germany) (Prevalence Ratio 2.25; 95% Confidence Interval: 1.22-4.14). In conclusion, au-pairs may develop mental symptoms during their time abroad. Future prospective studies should aim at identifying potential risk factors and preventive measures.