Reducing health inequities affecting immigrant women: a qualitative study of their available assets

Background: Immigrant women often experience health inequities, whether for reasons of gender, country of origin, or socioeconomic status. The view of immigrant women has always focussed on their needs, without taking into account their available assets. A salutogenic approach incorporating an assets analysis could provide a new perspective on the design of health promotion interventions to reduce health inequities. The study objective was to identify the assets of this group of women as a necessary first step in changing the paradigm used in such health promotion interventions. Methods: This qualitative study combined focus groups, in-depth interviews, and a photovoice session. The aim was to describe the assets of this group, based on Antonovsky’s salutogenic approach and assets model. Qualitative results were interpreted with a phenomenological focus, identifying each individual’s internal, community, and institutional assets. Results: The self awareness of skills was linked to a person’s description of herself as being optimistic, having religious beliefs, and having motivations and objectives in life, for herself, her family or her children. Being motivated helped the women to persist in doing or learning things that could be useful in confronting difficult situations. Another selfawareness skill was feeling useful to others, whether this was due to religious beliefs about their role in life or to the importance of the mutual support of interpersonal relationships. Conclusions: High optimism, strong capacity for struggle and self-initiative, the importance of religious beliefs, social support, and concern for their children’s future were described as assets of immigrant women. Identification of these assets allows us to develop more in-depth knowledge and better tools for health promotion programs and policies intended to reduce health inequities in this population of immigrant women ​
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