A Multilingual Integrative Review of Health Literacy in Former Soviet Union, Russian-Speaking Immigrants

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 14;18(2):657. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18020657.


Large diasporas of former Soviet Union (FSU) immigrants are found in the USA, Germany, and Israel. To synthesize evidence, identify limitations, and propose future directions we conducted an integrative review on the health literacy of FSU immigrants, migrants, or refugees in four languages. Following integrative review and PRISMA guidelines, we searched four databases in English and performed supplementary searches in Russian, German, and Hebrew to identify qualitative and quantitative studies on FSU immigrants and health literacy. Six articles met inclusion criteria in English and one in German; the majority were published in the last five years. Only two articles measured health literacy of FSU immigrants, which was lower than the general population. Four articles were about immigrants with a mean age ≥50 years. All articles stressed the value of translated, culturally relevant health information. The health literacy of FSU immigrants is understudied, despite clear needs. Future research should include assessments of FSU immigrants' health literacy and include diverse (e.g., age, gender) yet well-defined populations to determine both barriers and facilitators to their health literacy. This review, an example of a multilingual search, provided a comprehensive understanding of existing literature and is a useful approach for global health literacy research.

Keywords: cultural and linguistic care practices; health literacy; healthcare system; immigrant/migrant/refugee; patient education.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Germany
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Language
  • Middle Aged
  • Russia
  • USSR