Social innovation and the health of migrants

Research shows that health conditions of migrants tend to be poorer than those of non-migrants due, primarily, to them being over represented in high-risk jobs and to difficulties in receiving appropriate and bespoke healthcare support (Rechel et al., 2013). Although immigrants’ contact with general practitioners is usually higher in comparison with non-migrants (Norredam et al., 2010; Uiters et al., 2009), the specific health needs of migrants are often not adequately addressed by health professionals and institutions (Rechel et al., 2011). To date, Europe’s healthcare systems have appeared unable to adequately address migrants’ health-related issues, while an inclusive and prosperous society cannot depart from the development of interventions that can support wider healthcare access and use, and a higher quality of services for this growing part of the population (Lancet Commission, 2019; Peiro and Roumyana, 2009; Rechel et al., 2011).

In a context of persistent rise of health inequalities, social innovation has gained prominence in recent years as an innovative way to address unmet needs. Social innovation has been defined as a combination of existing elements, and a bridge between sectors that have never collaborated before, aiming at developing lasting relationships between groups and disciplines (Mulgan et al., 2007). It also serves as a way of meeting social needs while enhancing social assets and capabilities (Sinclair and Baglioni, 2014).

Mechanisms of social change has been replicated in the promotion of health equity, as well as in the development of those social measures, such as bridging and bonding forms of social capital, which although not directly related with health issues, are important to promote better health (Mason et al., 2015). Research on social innovation and health has focused on how social movements affect the promotion of health equity (Brown et al., 2004), and reflected on how social enterprise has impacted on the social determinants of health (Roy et al., 2014), as well as on understanding the possible effects of digital innovation on health equity (Bria et al., 2015).  Although, some prior literature has highlighted the risk in this innovation of excluding instead of creating inclusion (Eysenbach and Köhler, 2002), to date only fragmented and US-focused literature has analysed the contribution and the effectiveness of social innovation in promoting health equity and health care quality for disadvantaged people and in particular for migrants (Beach et al., 2006; Mason et al., 2015).

Therefore, this PhD would aim to fill this research gap by selecting specific social innovation interventions, and collecting primary and secondary evidence-based data on evidencing the possible contributions of social innovation to the health of migrants in the UK.

Director of Studies: Prof Simone Baglioni
Supervisor: Dr Francesca Calo

Reference: Yunus-2019-003

Closing date for applications is Friday 7th June.

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