Research agenda for tackling inequalities related to migration and ethnicity in Europe

J Public Health (Oxf). 2012 Jun;34(2):167-73. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fds004. Epub 2012 Feb 24.


Reducing ethnic inequalities and inequities in health needs to become a higher priority for public health research. Active involvement of migrant and ethnic minority populations in European population health research is necessary, for data show important inequalities but evidence, particularly on effectiveness, is sparse and strategic overviews rarer still. Ethnically disaggregated health surveillance systems are developing slowly, and pragmatically, often using country of birth. The principles to adopt, given the gaps between the ideal and the current reality, need wider discussion. Ethics may provide both principles and impetus. Doing no harm, doing good, respecting the research participants' autonomy are good starting points. More emphasis is needed on justice, fairness and equality, participation and communicating effectively. Ethnic minority groups are willing participants in trials once linguistic and trust-related barriers are overcome, though recruitment costs are higher. Guidelines and strategies by European bodies with research funding or enforcement responsibilities are needed. The research community needs an infrastructure within which to collect and utilize evidence. Research can help migrant and ethnic minority groups to participate more fully in our multi-ethnic societies.

MeSH terms

  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Europe
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Health Services Research
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups