Background: Many studies on migrant health have focused on aspects of morbidity and mortality, but very few approach the relevant issues of migrants' health considering behavioral risk factors. Previous studies have often been limited methodologically because of sample size or lack of information on migrant country of origin. Information about risk factors is fundamental to direct any intervention, particularly with regard to non-communicable diseases that are leading causes of death and disease. Thus, the main focus of our analysis is the influence of country of origin and the assimilation process. Method: Utilizing a surveillance system that has been collecting over 30,000 interviews a year in Italy since 2008, we have studied migrants' attitudes and behaviors by country of origin and by length of stay. Given 6 years of observation, we have obtained and analyzed 228,201 interviews of which over 9000 were migrants. Results: While migrants overall present similar conditions to native-born Italians, major differences appear when country of origin or length of stay is considered. Subgroups of migrants present substantially different behaviors, some much better than native-born Italians, some worse. However, integration processes generally produce a convergence towards the behavioral prevalence observed for native-born Italians. Conclusions: Health programs should consider the diversity of the growing migrant population: data and analyses are needed to support appropriate policies. Many migrants' subgroups arrive with healthier behaviors than those of their adopted country. However, they are likely to have a less favorable social position in their destination countries that could lead to a change towards less healthy behaviors. Interventions capable of identifying this tendency could produce significant better health for this important part of the future (multicultural) populations.
- Behavioral risk factor surveillance
- Country of origin
- Migrant health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health