Immigrant populations, work and health—a systematic literature review

Emily Q Ahonen, Fernando G Benavides, Joan Benach
2007 Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health  
Review Scand J Work Environ Health 2007;33(2):96-104 that can encourage immigration, there is an important connection to be made between migrating populations, work, and the effect that both foreign status and worker status have on the health and quality of life of these groups. It is probable that these newly arrived persons find themselves in positions of special occupational vulnerability, with high levels of precarious employment and poor work conditions. Considering the magnitude of
more » ... magnitude of current human movement, we know relatively little about the links between work and health in immigrant groups. Reviews on this topic are scarce and with a limited scope. They have tended to focus on specific collectives, which are clearly useful for understanding the conditions of these groups. However, such reviews do not bring to light the commonalities that can exist across immigrant worker collectives that could direct further research and advocacy at a structural level. Other descriptive reviews are not described as such and include little information about the search process, factors that are important for locating Ahonen EQ, Benavides FG, Benach J. Immigrant populations, work and health-a systematic literature review. Scand J Work Environ Health 2007;33(2):96-104. Objectives This paper summarizes the information on immigrant occupational health available from recent studies, incorporating varied study designs. Methods A systematic search was carried out in PubMed employing terms of interest to the study and related terms supplied by the same search engine. Articles were selected through the following process: (i) reading the title and abstract, in English or Spanish, for the period 1990-2005, (ii) reading of the entire text of selected articles; (iii) making a manual search of the relevant citations in the selected articles; (iv) eliminating articles without a focus on the themes of central interest (immigration, work, and health), and (v) reading and analyzing the definitive article set. No quality criteria were used in the article selection. Results The location of studies was not straightforward and required careful thought about the search terms. The included 48 papers were often multifaceted and difficult to categorize. They generally came from countries historically associated with immigration and described occupational risk factors, health consequences, and the social, economic, and cultural influences on worker health. They were also based on data, surveillance, training, and preventive measures that were inadequate. Conclusions Increased migration is a reality in industrialized countries all over the world, and it has social, political, and economic consequences for migrating groups, as well as for their sending and host societies. More reliable data, targeted appropriate interventions, and enforcement of existing regulations are necessary to improve the health of immigrant workers. Furthermore, studies in sending and developing countries should be encouraged to form a more complete understanding of this complex situation.
doi:10.5271/sjweh.1112 fatcat:txdiwcfypnhvtjipa4og5xpxvq