Research to improve people's health


Perceived discrimination has a strong impact on the health and emotional well-being of immigrants

IDIAPJGol participates in a study published in PLoS One that examines the impact of perceived rejection on newly arrived people and identifies the emotions, coping strategies and behavioural changes they use to deal with them.

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Immigrants who perceive that they are discriminated can suffer serious effects on their physical and emotional health, according to a study published in the journal PLoS One, in which the which the Institut d’Investigació en Atenció Primària Jordi Gol (IDIAPJGol) actively participated. The paper also identifies emotions related to perceived discrimination, coping strategies and behavioural changes. The study is based on the qualitative analysis of 102 in-depth interviews carried out with newly arrived people.

The interviewed individuals expressed a range of negative emotions related to perceived discrimination, including disgust, sadness, fear, loneliness, humiliation, a sense of injustice, anger, or feeling undervalued or vulnerable.

Changes in behaviour

The study has also identified changes in behaviour among these people, linked to the fact of feeling discriminated, such as westernisation or cultural assimilation, the concern to create a good image, seclusion, hypervigilance, refusal to participate politically, self-sufficiency, positive adaptation and, paradoxically, a tendency to oppress others.

In addition, researchers have identified strategies that newly arrived people adopt to cope with perceived discrimination. These defense mechanisms include ignoring the situation, isolation, self-medication, participation in community activities, insulting or trying to dialogue with the oppressors, denunciation, physical aggression, crying, or sarcasm. The consequences of perceived discrimination include stress and anxiety, and mental health problems and addictions, and mood swings.

IDIAPJGol researcher Felipe Villalobos, who has collaborated in this study with the MigraSalud group of the Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu, emphasises that the results of the work warn of “the need to carry out public actions to prevent and address the effects of discrimination among immigrants.”

Reference of the article

Gabarrell-Pascuet A, Lloret-Pineda A, Franch-Roca M, Mellor-Marsa B, Alos-Belenguer MDC, He Y, Hafi-Elmokhtari RE, Villalobos F, Bayes-Marin I, Aparicio Pareja L, Álvarez Bobo O, Espinal Cabezas M, Osorio Y, Haro JM, Cristóbal-Narvaez P. Impact of perceived discrimination and coping strategies on well-being and mental health in newly-arrived migrants in Spain. PLoS One. 2023 Dec 22;18(12):e0294295. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0294295. PMID: 38134016; PMCID: PMC10745147.


Picture: Ariadna Creus and Àngel García, Banc d’Imatges Infermeres.

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