259924 Are immigrants healthier than native born Americans?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 9:15 AM - 9:30 AM

Elaine Congress, MSW, DSW, LCSW , Graduate School of Social Service, Fordham University, New York, NY
This presentation will address the question -Are immigrants healthy than native born Americans? A common belief is that immigrants might be less healthy as 1. They often come from developing countries where access to nutritious food was limited 2. Health care and prevention may have been minimal in their country of origin and 3. In the United States they may have limited access to health care especially if they are undocumented (Goldman et al, 2006; Derose,et al, 2007). In addition refugees and many immigrants may have experienced traumatic events in their countries of origin that can contribute to the development of posttraumatic stress disorders and other mental health problems (Hikmet et al, 2007) There has been some research, however, that supports the “Healthy Immigrant Phenomenon”, that the health of second generation immigrants is worse than first generation (Kleinfeld et al., 2004) and that first generation immigrants' health may deteriorate the longer they are in the United States. One explanation is that immigrants similar to other Americans may adopt an unhealthy diet high in fat, starch, and sugar and curtail exercise, factors that have been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. (Derose, et al., 2007; McDonald & Kennedy, 2004) Social supports have been seen as key to minimizing health problems of immigrants (Stewart et al, 2010). This presentation seeks to help public health social workers increase their understanding of potential health risks and protective factors for immigrants and their families.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe various theories on how health of immigrants changes after immigration to the United States. 2. Assess the impact of limited health care for immigrants 3. Identify key factors that affect immigrant help 4. Compare and evaluate different theories about immigrant health

Keywords: Health Risks, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have written and presented about immigrants and health issues previously including several books on immigrants and cultural diversity.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 5101.0: Immigrant health