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‘I don’t think there’s anything I can do which can keep me healthy’: how the UK immigration and asylum system shapes the health & wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland

Isaacs, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-5135-232X, Burns, N., Macdonald, S. and O’Donnell, C. A. (2020). ‘I don’t think there’s anything I can do which can keep me healthy’: how the UK immigration and asylum system shapes the health & wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland. Critical Public Health, doi: 10.1080/09581596.2020.1853058

Abstract

Many migrant groups, particularly those that are politically and economically marginalised, such as asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs), face inequities in access to health care as well as poorer physical and mental health outcomes. The role of post-arrival experiences in contributing to these inequities is increasingly being explored, and it is suggested that being a migrant is itself a determinant of health outcomes. Drawing on the theoretical concept of structural vulnerability, this paper explores ASRs’ experiences of health, wellbeing, and health practices in the context of their lived realities in Scotland. 24 semi-structured interviews were conducted with ASRs from Sub-Saharan Africa between January and December 2015. Data were explored using thematic analysis. Experience of the UK asylum system, both alone and in conjunction with other sources of vulnerability including racism, poverty, and language barriers had a negative and ongoing impact on the physical and mental health of ASRs. These impacts continued, even once refugee status was obtained. Efforts to engage ASRs in preventive health programmes and practices must take into account the ways in which the asylum system acts as a determinant of health, affecting both what it means to be healthy and what capacity individuals have to engage with their health. Political choices in how the asylum process is enacted have far-reaching implications for individual and population health.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Publisher Keywords: Social determinants, asylum seekers, refugees, vulnerability
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology > Food Policy
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2020 16:30
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/25358
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