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Migration and Health

Migration and Health: A Research Methods Handbook

Marc B. Schenker
Xóchitl Castañeda
Alfonso Rodriguez-Lainz
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 536
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  • Book Info
    Migration and Health
    Book Description:

    The study of migrant populations poses unique challenges owing to the mobility of these groups, which may be further complicated by cultural, educational, and linguistic diversity as well as the legal status of their members. These barriers limit the usefulness of both traditional survey sampling methods and routine public health surveillance systems. Since nearly 1 in 7 people in the world is a migrant, appropriate methodological approaches must be designed and implemented to capture health data from populations. This effort is particularly important because migrant populations, in comparison to other populations, typically suffer disparities related to limited access to health care, greater exposure to infectious diseases, more occupational injuries, and fewer positive outcomes for mental health and other health conditions.

    This path-breaking handbook is the first to engage with the many unique issues that arise in the study of migrant communities. It offers a comprehensive description of quantitative and qualitative methodologies useful in work with migrant populations. By providing information and practical tools, the editors fill existing gaps in research methods and enhance opportunities to address the health and social disparities migrant populations face in the United States and around the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95849-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Health Sciences, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Michael V. Drake

    The University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI), established in 2009, addresses long-standing and emerging challenges to global health through its education, research, and partnership initiatives. Its three multicampus, cross-disciplinary Centers of Expertise comprise dozens of faculty across the ten-campus UC system who are using their vast knowledge and proficiency to address the increasingly complex global health problems and needs of the world’s most vulnerable populations. The three Centers of Expertise are Migration and Health; One Health: Water, Animals, Food, and Society; and Women’s Health and Empowerment.

    The decision to establish a Center of Expertise on Migration and Health (COEMH)...


    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-11)
      Marc B. Schenker

      This book is intended to address a large and growing global health challenge—the health of migrant people around the world. It was written with the belief that the global health community can decrease the substantial health disparities that exist between migrant and nonmigrant populations by recognizing the unique needs of migrant populations and using the right tools to understand and improve their health. The primary goal of the book is to summarize in one reference the many methods available for health research on migrant populations and to address the unique issues involved in conducting research on health among migrants....

    • 2 Studying Migrant Populations: General Considerations and Approaches
      (pp. 12-37)
      Alfonso Rodriguez-Lainz and Xóchitl Castañeda

      The increased diversity and volume of migration is one of the main factors shaping social, demographic, cultural, and economic processes in the twenty-first century. Because of its widespread impact, migration has become an increasingly contentious issue. The causes and consequences of migration for origin, transit, and destination communities are passionately debated in the public arena. On the one hand, pro-immigration groups emphasize migrants’ human rights, the positive link between migration and economic development for origin and receiving countries, and the positive aspects of increased cultural diversity. Anti-immigrant groups, on the other hand, view migration as a threat to national sovereignty,...

    • 3 Life Course Epidemiology: A Conceptual Model for the Study of Migration and Health
      (pp. 38-56)
      Jacob Spallek, Hajo Zeeb and Oliver Razum

      Both the absolute numbers of international migrants and their proportion of the total population are increasing in most western European countries and the US. In 2005, western and central European countries, for example, hosted a total of more than 44 million foreign-born persons (Razum 2007). The term “migrant” here comprises persons who cross national borders to reside in another country for extended time periods or permanently.

      The health of some migrant groups has been extensively studied in the past. However, studies about health differences between migrants and majority populations still face a fundamental challenge: there is not yet a broadly...


    • 4 Use of Existing Health Information Systems in Europe to Study Migrant Health
      (pp. 59-80)
      Katia Levecque, Elena Ronda-Pérez, Emily Felt and Fernando G. Benavides

      Traditionally in public health research and practice, making health comparisons between migrant and native populations based on secondary data from routine health information systems has been useful for monitoring health problems, generating causal hypotheses, and distinguishing between the role of environmental and individual characteristics (MacMahon 1960). A very well known example is the study on gastric cancer using mortality data in which Japanese-born people living in the US were compared with native-born whites and Japanese descendants born in the US (Haenzel and Kurihara 1968). As noted by the authors, there were several possible explanations for why gastric cancer mortality rates...

    • 5 Use of National Data Systems to Study Immigrant Health in the United States
      (pp. 81-110)
      Gopal K. Singh

      The US immigrant population has grown considerably in the last four decades, from 9.6 million in 1970 to 40 million in 2010 (US Census Bureau 2011). Immigrants currently represent 12.9% of the total US population, the highest percentage in eight decades (Walters and Trevelyan 2011; US Census Bureau 2011). The rapid increase in the immigrant population since 1970 reflects large-scale immigration from Latin America and Asia (Walters and Trevelyan 2011; Grieco and Trevelyan 2010; Grieco 2010). Over half (53%) of all US immigrants are from Latin America and another 28% of immigrants come from Asia (Walters and Trevelyan 2011). Europeans,...

    • 6 The Community-Based Migrant Household Probability Sample Survey
      (pp. 111-140)
      Enrico A. Marcelli

      For at least three reasons, international migrant health is perhaps the most difficult demographic phenomenon to study dispassionately and methodically. First, migrant health is relatively difficult to measure because, unlike fertility and mortality, it is not a tangible biological event (Carletto and de Brauw 2007; Davis 1974; Redstone and Massey 2004; Zlotnick 1987), and researchers employ numerous definitions of health (Cutler 2004; Pol and Thomas 2001; Young 2005). Second, even when probabilistic household sample survey data—the standard by which all social scientific findings are judged (Deaton 1997; Groves et al. 2004: 6)—include information regarding migration and health outcomes,...

    • 7 Respondent-Driven Sampling for Migrant Populations
      (pp. 141-164)
      Lisa Johnston and Mohsen Malekinejad

      Imagine wanting to conduct a large (100+) quantitative survey of the health conditions of sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco, the living situations of Chinese students studying in Ukraine, the working environment of Polish people residing in Norway, the migration patterns of Central American females in Houston, or the vulnerability of Cambodian migrants crossing into Thailand. Because of their particular circumstances, it is difficult to generate a sampling frame from which to gather a representative sample from these populations. In addition, migrants are sometimes stigmatized or are in irregular administrative situations, which, in turn, makes them difficult to access and unwilling to...

    • 8 Time-Space Sampling of Migrant Populations
      (pp. 165-191)
      Salaam Semaan and Elizabeth DiNenno

      Time-space sampling (TSS), also known as time-location sampling, through use of venue-based sampling, is a probability-based sampling method useful for investigating well-defined populations that congregate at specific locations and times. Since the early 1990s, researchers have gained extensive experience with implementing TSS of hard-to-reach populations. TSS has been especially useful in sampling persons at risk for HIV infection, a hard-to-reach population in the United States (Mackellar et al. 2007; Marpsat and Razafindratsima 2010; Semaan et al. 2002; Semaan 2010). This extensive experience with TSS in HIV-related projects can be leveraged and tailored for sampling migrant populations, which are also often...

    • 9 Prior Enumeration: A Method for Enhanced Sampling with Migrant Surveys
      (pp. 192-205)
      Richard Mines, Coburn C. Ward and Marc B. Schenker

      One challenge in conducting research with hard-to-reach migrant populations, including farmworkers, is defining a population sampling frame in order to obtain an unbiased sample. Several innovative approaches have been used in the sampling of farmworkers in the United States, and these approaches can be useful for working with other migrant populations. Although these customized approaches are an improvement over noncustomized schemes, they still likely fail to capture the poorest, least educated, and most socially displaced migrant workers. Prior enumeration (PE) is a sampling strategy that can minimize this problem. Prior enumeration is a two-stage process of creating a cluster sample...

    • 10 Telephone-Based Surveys
      (pp. 206-217)
      David Grant, Royce J. Park and Yu-chieh Lin

      Telephone surveys are a popular and cost-effective data collection methodology. They have been widely used for general population surveys and also in some migration studies and research (National Public Radio et al. 2004; Pew Hispanic Center 2006; Statistics New Zealand 2007). Since the advent of random-digit dialing (RDD) sampling methods in the 1980s, RDD telephone surveys have become perhaps the most common method of fielding a survey. And while RDD telephone surveys remain popular, declining response rates and the growth of cell-phone-only households present significant challenges to the dominance of this method.

      Following the introduction, we describe telephone surveys, telephone...

    • 11 Case-Control Studies
      (pp. 218-237)
      Clelia Pezzi and Philip H. Kass

      The case-control study is an efficient approach to assessing the association between exposures and disease or health outcomes. In a case-control study, the exposure histories of cases, individuals with a disease or other health outcome, are compared to the exposure histories of controls, those at risk of the outcome (i.e., without the disease of interest), to identify potentially causal associations. For example, this method could be used to study the effects of exposure to different pesticides and cancer risk among farmworkers. Unlike cohort studies, study subjects are selected based on disease status, and controls are a sample (rather than a...

    • 12 Longitudinal Studies
      (pp. 238-262)
      Guillermina Jasso

      Migration occurs over time. And health unfolds over time. It is thus not surprising that longitudinal studies are the ideal approach for studying migration, health, and the two together. Longitudinal studies confer general advantages—making it possible to distinguish between cohort and duration effects, for example, and to obtain unbiased estimates in situations where cross-sectional data would yield consistent estimates at best. Longitudinal studies also confer specific advantages in the study of migration and health—making it possible to assess mechanisms of selection and integration with unprecedented sharpness.

      This chapter begins with a brief overview of migration and health questions...


    • 13 Ethnographic Research in Migration and Health
      (pp. 265-277)
      Seth M. Holmes and Heide Castañeda

      This chapter explores the methodological approach of ethnographic research and its importance in migration and health studies. It serves as an introduction to the methodology of ethnography for those new to this approach, helping such readers become familiar with the ways in which their understanding of migration and health could be expanded by reading ethnographic studies, collaborating with ethnographic researchers, or embarking on the path of conducting ethnographic research themselves.

      Ethnography is the long-term study of a group of people, their interactions and experiences, and the meanings through which they understand their lives. However, ethnographers should not assume unchanging, static...

    • 14 Participant Observation and Key Informant Interviews
      (pp. 278-292)
      Rosa María Aguilera and Ana Amuchástegui

      Our times are characterized by increasing complexities associated with globalization. Human migration is as complex as its study, both because of its quantitative dimensions—the present century has been called the “century of migration”—and because it is occurring within the context of growing economic, political, and sociocultural globalization, which has introduced tension into classical categories like those of “nation-state,” “identity,” “citizenship” and “multiculturalism.” These complexities also produce tension for research methods and pose specific epistemological challenges.

      In this context, the present chapter reflects on the use of two qualitative research techniques: participant observation and key informant interviews, and evaluates...

    • 15 Focus Groups/Group Qualitative Interviews
      (pp. 293-305)
      Patricia Zavella

      This chapter discusses the origins of focus groups (occasionally called group qualitative interviews), illustrating how they are helpful in different research projects and describing the process of recruiting, organizing, and conducting them for health research that involves migrant populations. Complex issues often arise when focus groups are used with migrant populations and these issues are explored in depth. An extended case study of best practices describes a project that negotiates many of the complications involved in conducting focus groups with migrants.

      Focus groups allow researchers to convene multiple subjects and ask them to respond to a set of questions and...

    • 16 Full Circle: The Method of Collaborative Anthropology for Regional and Transnational Research
      (pp. 306-326)
      Bonnie Bade and Konane Martinez

      Collaborative anthropology is a new paradigm in ethnographic research that involves long-term community-based research projects with community partners living regionally. Fundamental to the collaborative anthropology method is that research—the topics to be examined, the purpose of the research, the data resulting from the research, and the organization and presentation of the results of the research—are determined collaboratively, with the needs and priorities of the community directing the goals of the researchers. Depending on the site of the researchers, appropriate community partners for collaborative anthropological research projects might include farmworker and other occupationally based communities, grassroots organizations, indigenous migrant...

    • 17 Photovoice as a Methodology
      (pp. 327-342)
      Regina Day Langhout

      Photovoice is a methodology in which participants take pictures based on a prompt and discuss their photographs following a specific structured format. The goal is to take a grassroots approach to study a community-based issue and to move toward social action. Photovoice has been used as a stand-alone methodology, but also in conjunction with other methods, such as community mapping, individual interviews, and focus groups. It has also been used as a form of community-based participatory research or participatory action research.

      In this chapter, I position photovoice as a methodology that can facilitate critical consciousness, empowerment, and social action. Then,...


    • 18 Ethical Issues across the Spectrum of Migration and Health Research
      (pp. 345-360)
      Kevin Pottie and Patricia Gabriel

      We all use stories, beliefs, and rituals to create a sense of community, to enrich our experiences, and to sustain us during difficult times. Stories also reflect how people of different cultures explain the cause of illness, the types of treatment they believe in, and to whom they will turn if they become ill (Helman 1997). Secular Western societies often have identities and stories linked to science and technology while traditional societies have stories based more on religion and community belonging (Giddens 1991). The search for ethics or answering the question “Is it right?” is complex when societies lack a...

    • 19 Community-Based Participatory Research: A Promising Approach for Studying and Addressing Immigrant Health
      (pp. 361-376)
      Meredith Minkler and Charlotte Chang

      An alternative approach to inquiry known as community-based participatory research (CBPR) holds substantial value for work with immigrant populations (Arcury et al. 2001; Farquhar and Michael 2004; Tandon and Kwon 2009). Anorientation to research, rather than a particular research method, CBPR is concisely defined as “systematic inquiry, with the participation of those affected by the problem, for the purposes of education and action or affecting social change” (Green et al. 1995). Unlike most investigator-driven approaches, CBPR emphasizes equitable engagement of all partners throughout the research process, from problem definition through data collection and analysis, to dissemination and use of...

    • 20 Occupational Health Research with Immigrant Workers
      (pp. 377-395)
      Michael A. Flynn and Donald E. Eggerth

      Work is the principal driver of current international immigration. Over half of the 214 million international immigrants are labor migrants actively participating in the workforce; their families account for an additional 40% of the global immigrant population (ILO 2009). The globalization of the world economy is characterized by increased flows of labor across international borders and has contributed to an increasingly complex pattern of international migration as well. While traditional immigration patterns persist (e.g., Mexicans migrating to the United States), new ones have also emerged in the past thirty years (e.g., immigrants now represent 92% of the workforce in Qatar)...

    • 21 Methodological Recommendations for Broadening the Investigation of Refugees and Other Forced Migrants
      (pp. 396-420)
      Andrew Rasmussen

      Immigrant subpopulations are usually defined by emphasizing their particular contexts of entry or the phenomena that influence their immigration to a particular country—that is, their “pull factors.” Thus undocumented immigrants are defined primarily by their illegal migration process and entrepreneurial immigrants by the economic pull of a favorable business climate. Refugees and other forced migrants are distinguished almost entirely by emphasis on the premigration factors that force them from their countries of origin—that is, their “push factors.” This emphasis on premigration factors is reflected in the refugee health literature by the large number of studies that report high...

    • 22 Working Internationally
      (pp. 421-436)
      Carol Camlin and David Kyle

      Working abroad will be a feature of many studies of migration and health and is worth considering as its own challenge. The introductory chapters to this volume detail the definitions of migration and mobility commonly used in migration studies, while chapters 4 through 17 describe strategies for identifying and gathering systematic samples of migrant populations. Chapters 18 through 25 describe special issues in working with hidden and hard-to-reach populations of migrants, for example, those who lack legal citizenship or residency status and those who are refugees or were forcibly displaced; these populations are not only migrant but also highly mobile....

    • 23 Binational Collaborative Research
      (pp. 437-454)
      Sylvia Guendelman

      I first started working on United States–Mexico immigration studies in the mid-1980s. At the time the foreign-born Mexican population living in the United States was growing very rapidly mostly due to the surge in unauthorized immigration that had started in the 1970s. Undocumented immigrants openly crossed the border in search of work opportunities and better lifestyles in California. As a public health scholar interested in the health of women, children, and families, I considered this influx an exciting opportunity to study many relevant public health issues.

      One issue that caught my attention was that as the immigrant population grew...

    • 24 Ensuring Access to Research for Nondominant Language Speakers
      (pp. 455-483)
      Francesca Gany, Lisa Diamond, Rachel Meislin and Javier González

      Migrant populations enrich the societies into which they settle, bringing new perspectives, revitalizing neighborhoods, and enhancing the tax base (Rex 1995). Despite their many contributions, immigrants and migrants often face barriers to ethical participation in research. When these barriers are not adequately addressed, health disparities can result. This chapter will review the demographics of limited-English-speaking populations in several large English-speaking countries, address the need to develop an inclusive research infrastructure, and discuss the considerations in implementing research across languages.

      The aim of this chapter is to help enable researchers to increase equity in research and improve outcomes for limited English...

    • 25 Extended Case Study: A Mixed-Methods Approach to Understanding Internal Migrant Access to Health Care and the Health System’s Response in India
      (pp. 484-498)
      Bontha V. Babu, Anjali B. Borhade and Yadlapalli S. Kusuma

      Migration has taken place throughout human history and currently represents an important livelihood strategy, mainly for the poor in many of the world’s developing countries. The Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimated that there are approximately 740 million internal migrants and 214 million international migrants (UNDP 2009). UNDP defined internal migrants as those individuals who move within the borders of a country, usually measured across regional, district, or municipal boundaries, resulting in a change of usual place of residence. In India, internal migration is a common phenomenon, with the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) of...

    (pp. 499-510)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 511-524)