Immigrant women's health

Soc Sci Med. 2001 May;52(9):1451-8. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00251-3.


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 socioeconomic 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Canada
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Self-Assessment*
  • United States
  • Women's Health*