The importance of social context in understanding and promoting low-income immigrant women's health

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2009 Feb;20(1):90-7. doi: 10.1353/hpu.0.0126.


Understanding the social context and realities of Cape Verdean women in the U.S. as well as other immigrant and ethnic/racial groups is important to promote their overall health and well-being more effectively. The aim of this study was to gain a contextual understanding from the perspectives of health promoters who work with marginalized women. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine Cape Verdean women health promoters about their perspectives and experiences of health promotion practice with immigrant women in their community. Using a Glaserian grounded theory approach to analysis, six salient themes describing women's social context emerged: community and domestic violence, loss and isolation, economic injustice, immigration-related issues and abuse, unequal gender-based power relations, and cultural taboos. These findings challenge health researchers and practitioners to understand health problems and health promotion not only at an individual level, but at multiple levels of influence including interpersonal, family, neighborhood, and structural levels.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Cabo Verde / ethnology
  • Community Health Workers
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Poverty*
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Isolation
  • Violence
  • Women's Health / ethnology*