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Embraced by the past, hopeful for the future: meaning of health to ageing persons who have migrated from the Western Balkan region to Sweden

Journal article
Authors Qarin Lood
Greta Häggblom Kronlöf
Liselott (Lisen) Dellenborg
Published in Ageing & Society
Volume 36
Issue 3
Pages 649-665
ISSN 0144-686X
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 649-665
Language en
Keywords immigrants; health equity; health promotion; older persons; person-centred care; qualitative research
Subject categories Public health science, Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


Previous research has often visualised ageing and migration as risk factors for poor health, pointing to a need for targeting health-promoting efforts towards ageing persons who are born abroad. However, most research has been conducted from an objective and poor health perspective, losing the broader picture of health in the context of ageing and migration. A key issue left unexplored is the meaning of health from a subjective perspective with focus upon persons who constitute the target groups for health promotion and other health-care services. A large number of people are now ageing in countries other than their country of birth. Therefore, studying the meaning of health in relation to this part of the population is of growing importance. As part of a larger health promotion project, the aim of this study was to explore the meaning of health to ageing persons who have migrated from the Western Balkan region to Sweden. Data were collected by individual interviews, conducted in the participants' mother tongue. Inspired by Ricoeur's hermeneutic approach, health was interpreted as a retrospective and prospective process of exercising control over one's own life, daily activities and social commitments. This interpretation is discussed in relation to how a person-centred approach to health-care services could bridge health inequities in an ageing and globalising society.

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