Online Program

Migration/occupation/access: The use of chosen family to access health services among overseas Filipina workers living in Europe

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 12:50 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Fernando Ona, PhD, MPH, Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA
Zobeida Bonilla, PhD, MPH, MA, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, SPH, Minneapolis, MN
Alexander de Groot, MPH, Center for Advancing Health Policy and Practice, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Background and Significance: It is estimated that over 8 million Filipinos migrate overseas to often work in "3-D" jobs: dirty, difficult, and dangerous. Filipinos are often subjected to unfair working conditions, long hours, low pay, and human rights abuses. Many overseas Filipino workers are employed through unofficial channels, and are often undocumented workers. In such situations, there are a number of challenges that face OFWs seeking services, especially health and social services.

Objective/Purpose: This exploratory study examines the experience of Overseas Filipina Workers in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain to understand how they seek and navigate through public health services and the impact of being domestic helpers on their health and well-being.

Methods: We conducted in-depth interviews and participant observations in six Western European cities with 28 Overseas Filipino Workers engaged as domestic helpers, cleaners and maids. Using a grounded theory approach, data were coded and analyzed to derive emergent themes around health seeking services and health support.

Results: Our findings revealed five major themes that supported women in navigating foreign health care systems to address health challenges. The ability of participants' to navigate through public health systems involved a complex constellation of: chosen family structures, language challenges, public image, ability and willingness to integrate, and level of education. Participants relied predominantly on chosen networks (family, friends, and acquaintances) for support in accessing health services.

Discussion/Conclusion: This presentation will discuss the different sociocultural environments that affect the ability for Overseas Filipina women to access and navigate a spectrum of health services. Overseas Filipina women maintain chosen familial networks that support access to health resources. These findings suggest ways to leverage chosen family networks and inform interventions aimed at strengthening social ties and optimizing health promotion among Overseas Filipina women.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the contexts that Overseas Filipina Women use to navigate health systems. Describe factors which influence participants’ integration into chosen familial networks that support health. Define strategies for leveraging chosen family networks to support access to health services among Overseas Filipina Women.

Keyword(s): Immigrant Women, Culture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a researcher or project leader on several epidemiologic and public health intervention studies focused on understanding and addressing health disparities in global health settings.
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.