This study examines the perceptions of health, health seeking behavior, access to information and resources, work related hazards, substance abuse, and social support of emancipated migrant youth (EMY) who come to the United States without their families to work.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were performed with EMY living without their families in Santa Clara County, California. Interviews were digitally recorded in Spanish, transcribed, translated into English, and analyzed by a five-person analysis team.
Results: Eleven interviews were conducted with 29 participants. Work was identified as the overarching priority of the EMY Their greatest concern was becoming sick and unable to work. They described their work environment as demanding and stressful, but felt obliged to work regardless of conditions. Alcohol and drug abuse were reported as prevalent problems.
Conclusion: Emancipated migrant youth are a vulnerable population who have significant occupational stress, hazardous environmental exposures, social isolation, and drug/alcohol abuse.