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The effect of perceived discrimination on the health of immigrant workers in Spain

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Author(s): Agudelo-Suárez Andrés | Ronda-Pérez Elena | Gil-González Diana | Vives-Cases Carmen | García Ana | Ruiz-Frutos Carlos | Felt Emily | Benavides Fernando

Journal: BMC Public Health
ISSN 1471-2458

Volume: 11;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 652;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Discrimination is an important determinant of health inequalities, and immigrants may be more vulnerable to certain types of discrimination than the native-born. This study analyses the relationship between immigrants' perceived discrimination and various self-reported health indicators. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted (2008) amongst a non-random sample of 2434 immigrants from Ecuador, Morocco, Romania and Colombia in four Spanish cities: Barcelona, Huelva, Madrid and Valencia. A factorial analysis of variables revealed three dimensions of perceived discrimination (due to immigrant status, due to physical appearance, and workplace-related). The association of these dimensions with self-rated health, mental health (GHQ-12), change in self-rated health between origin and host country, and other self-reported health outcomes was analysed. Logistic regression was used adjusting for potential confounders (aOR-95%CI). Subjects with worsening self-reported health status potentially attributable to perceived discrimination was estimated (population attributable proportion, PAP %). Results 73.3% of men and 69.3% of women immigrants reported discrimination due to immigrant status. Moroccans showed the highest prevalence of perceived discrimination. Immigrants reporting discrimination were at significantly higher risk of reporting health problems than those not reporting discrimination. Workplace-related discrimination was associated with poor mental health (aOR 2.97 95%CI 2.45-3.60), and the worsening of self-rated health (aOR 2.20 95%CI 1.73- 2.80). 40% (95% CI 24-53) PAP of those reporting worse self-rated health could be attributable to discrimination due to immigrant status. Conclusions Discrimination may constitute a risk factor for health in immigrant workers in Spain and could explain some health inequalities among immigrant populations in Spanish society.

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