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Immigrant women's health


  • Meadows, Lynn M.
  • Thurston, Wilfreda E.
  • Melton, Christina


The immigration process entails many changes in the lives of those who emigrate including establishing oneself in a new country. There is continuing interest in what happens to the health of those who undergo this process. This qualitative study investigated the perceived health and health-related experiences of a sample of mid-life immigrant women and explored relationships between determinants of health and their experiences connected to immigration. Forty-two women participated in the study. While respondents were relatively well educated, their current socio-economic status was relatively low. While women defined their health in a holistic manner, personal health focused on their physical health and their ability to function. This functionality was closely related to women's roles as resources for their families' well-being. Several health-related themes were identified that related to their change in homelands as adults: immigration and health, adapting to immigration and rebuilding their lives. Women are unlikely to talk about non-physical aspects of health unless asked about the general context of their lives. The family-centredness of immigrant women's well-being is a mediating factor in all aspects of their health; it is the health of the family unit that is the final point of adjudication for women. Spirituality and religious practices were identified as important resources for health. In addition, the process of immigration needs to be recognized as a determinant of health in and of itself. An understanding of these conceptualizations and health beliefs is an important component of the knowledge to be brought to formulating health promotion strategies and health services delivery that are relevant to and appropriate for this population of mid-life women.

Suggested Citation

  • Meadows, Lynn M. & Thurston, Wilfreda E. & Melton, Christina, 2001. "Immigrant women's health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(9), pages 1451-1458, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:52:y:2001:i:9:p:1451-1458

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    Cited by:

    1. Pavlish, Carol Lynn & Noor, Sahra & Brandt, Joan, 2010. "Somali immigrant women and the American health care system: Discordant beliefs, divergent expectations, and silent worries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 353-361, July.
    2. Steven Prus & Zhiqiu Lin, 2005. "Ethnicity and Health: An Analysis of Physical Health Differences across Twenty-one Ethnocultural Groups in Canada," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 143, McMaster University.
    3. Sergi Jimenez & Natalia Jorgensen & José María Labeaga, 2008. "Immigration and the Demand for Health in Spain," Working Papers 2008-38, FEDEA.
    4. Lum, Irene D. & Swartz, Rebecca H. & Kwan, Matthew Y.W., 2016. "Accessibility and use of primary healthcare for immigrants living in the Niagara Region," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 73-79.
    5. Dean, Jennifer Asanin & Wilson, Kathi, 2010. ""My health has improved because I always have everything I need here...": A qualitative exploration of health improvement and decline among immigrants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1219-1228, April.
    6. Wang, Lu & Rosenberg, Mark & Lo, Lucia, 2008. "Ethnicity and utilization of family physicians: A case study of Mainland Chinese immigrants in Toronto, Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(9), pages 1410-1422, November.


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