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Unravelling migrants’ health paradoxes: a transdisciplinary research agenda
  1. Maria Roura
  1. Correspondence to Dr Maria Roura, Public and Patient Involvement Research Group, Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, Castletroy, Limerick, Ireland; maria.roura{at}


The Social Determinants of Health literature has consistently found that a higher socioeconomic status is associated with better health outcomes even after adjusting for traditional risk factors. However, research findings in the field of Migrants’ Health suggest that the socioeconomic/health gradient does not always behave as expected for migrants and their descendants. The mismatch of findings in these two long-standing parallel research traditions is exemplified by frequent reports of paradoxical findings in the scientific literature: the healthy migrant paradox, the ethnic density paradox and the diminishing returns paradox. This paper outlines a transdisciplinary research agenda to elucidate the social processes that underpin these disconcerting findings and calls for a shift from a pathogenic deficit model that sees migrants as a burden to their reconceptualisation as actively engaged citizens in search of solutions. Amidst a severe refugee crisis, fears of terrorist attacks and political capitalisation of these tragedies to foster antimigrant sentiments, this is urgently needed.

  • Migrants’ heath
  • ethnic studies
  • social determinants of health
  • participatory research methods
  • qualitative methods
  • trans-disciplinary research
  • public and patient involvement

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  • Contributors MR conceived and wrote this paper with insights and contributions from Professor Ailish Hannigan, Professor Anne MacFarlane and Dr Nazmy Villarroel-Williams.

  • Funding MR is currently funded by the Irish Health Research Board, as part of the project “Ethnic Minority Health in Ireland - Building the evidence base to address health inequities” (HRA-PHR-2015-1344).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.