Poorer self-perceived health among migrants and ethnic minorities versus the majority population in Europe: a systematic review

Int J Public Health. 2010 Oct;55(5):357-71. doi: 10.1007/s00038-010-0145-4. Epub 2010 May 1.


Objectives: Knowledge about self-perceived health can help us understand the health status and needs among migrants and ethnic minorities in the European Union (EU) which is essential to improve equity and integration. The objective was to examine and compare self-perceived health among migrant and ethnic minority groups in the EU countries.

Methods: Publications were ascertained by a systematic search of PUBMED and EMBASE. Eligibility of studies was based on the abstracts and the full texts. Additional articles were identified via the references. The final number of studies included was 17.

Results: Publications were identified in 5 out of the 27 EU countries. In regard to self-perceived health, most migrants and ethnic minority groups appeared to be disadvantaged as compared to the majority population even after controlling for age, gender, and socioeconomic factors. Only limited cross-country comparisons could be carried out, still they revealed a parallel pattern of self-perceived health among similar migrant/ethnic minority groups.

Conclusions: Policies to improve social and health status, contextual factors, and access to healthcare among migrants and ethnic minorities are essential to reduce ethnic inequalities in health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Europe
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Minority Groups*
  • Self Concept*