Na zdrovya: A qualitative inquiry of the Russian-American immigrant population and the effects of cultural change

Saturday, 16 November 2013: 3:15 PM

Melissa McIntire Sherrod, PhD, RN
Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX
Nicholas McIntire Sherrod, BA, BSN, RN
Cook Children's Healthcare System, Fort Worth, TX

Learning Objective 1: compare study findings of Russian-American immigrants with other immigrant groups and determine if the Healthy Immigrant Effect (HIE) is relevant to this group.

Learning Objective 2: discuss three ways to provide culturally sensitive care with respect to immigrant populations regardless of length of residence or health status.

Researchers from various disciplines have studied health differences between immigrants to the U.S. and native-born Americans.  Many posit that immigrants come to the U.S. with a health advantage even if their native country is poor or developing.  In studies related to health status of new arrivals, immigrants bring aspects of culture, tradition, tight family social networks, and community social networks that allow them to withstand the deleterious impacts of American culture. This phenomenon is called the “Healthy Immigrant Effect” (HIE). With time spent in the U.S., however, this health advantage erodes.  Most studies have been conducted on Hispanics arriving in the U.S. although a similar pattern has been documented in other major immigrant receiving countries, including Canada and Australia.
What is not generally known is the extent to which these health differences exist in other immigrant groups.  This study explored the health status of Russian immigrants who have lived in a community in central Texas for various lengths of time. Health status was explored by investigating experiences as they were lived, reflecting on how essential themes characterize the experiences, and comparing them to those reported in the literature for other immigrant groups.
According to the U.S. Census, the foreign born population was at an all-time high in 2010, with an increase of 27 million people since 2000.  The large and increasing presence of immigrants highlights the importance of monitoring immigrant health since their health has a significant impact on the overall health outcomes of the general population.  Nursing is under increasing pressure to provide culturally sensitive care to all populations.  In order to design care delivery that serves diverse groups, it is important to recognize that all are not the same and in the case of immigrants, all may not arrive with better or equal health status.