Skip to main content


Log in

Intersection of Health, Immigration, and Youth: A Systematic Literature Review

  • Review Article
  • Published:
Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The goal of this literature review is to provide a critical overview of existing research on the health of immigrant youth within the last decade. Although the review focuses primarily on Canada, the findings have implications for public health planning, policy, and settlement/immigration services in other immigrant-receiving countries. The main objectives are: (i) to locate relevant literature written in the past 10 years (January 1998–January 2008); (ii) to undertake a critical review of retrieved studies; (iii) to highlight gaps in the current state of our knowledge and make recommendations for future research directions. The review focuses on the influence of migration experience on health of youth.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. “‘Grey literature’ is used to describe publications not published commercially or indexed by major database vendors. Greylit may be ephemeral (of questionable relevance or quality), but it continues to have an impact in research, teaching and learning. It is occasionally the sole source for specific research questions. While this research may be published eventually, in many cases it is not… Trends in communication are changing the notion of grey literature to include e-mails, faxes, blog postings, wikis, RSS feeds and podcasts.” University of British Columbia Library [subject page].

  2. Révolution tranquille or Quiet revolution was the period of intense change in Quebec, Canada, in the 1960s. The movement for civil rights, unionization of civil service, massive investment in the public education system and nationalized electricity production and distribution highlight some of the characteristics of this era (for an overview see: Claude Bélanger, The Quiet Revolution. Available online at:

  3. [The integration mode] “implies the maintenance of the cultural integrity of the group, as well as the movement by the group to become an integral part of a larger societal framework” …Assimilation, however, can occur “by way of absorption of a non-dominant group into an established dominant group, or it can be by way of the merging of many groups to form a new society, as in the “melting pot” concept” (based on Berry’s two dimensional acculturation model cited in Khanlou and Crawford [9]).

  4. Respondent Driven Sampling is an advance in sampling methodology that resolves difficulties associated with sampling hard-to-reach groups, that is, groups that are small relative to the general population, and for which no exhaustive list of population members is available. Examples include injecting drug users or undocumented refugees (see

  5. When data on immigration status is not directly available, proxy variables such as ‘the language spoken at home’ or ‘last name’ are used to guess the immigration status of the participants.


  1. Kobayashi A, Moore E, Resenberg M. Healthy immigrant children: a demographic and geographic analysis, applied research branch, strategic policy. Human Resources Development Canada; 1998.

  2. Hyman I, DesMeules M, Gold J, Kazanjian A, Manuel D, Payne J, et al. Can J Public Health; Setting the stage: reviewing current knowledge on the health of Canadian immigrants (special supplement article). 2004;95:I-4(1), 05/01.

  3. Hyman I. Immigration and health. Health Canada; 2001.

  4. Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment. From access to equity: a think tank on policies, programs, and research issues facing immigrant and refugee PHAs. Ontario HIV Treatment Network; 2006.

  5. Anisef P. Issues confronting newcomer youth in Canada: Alternative models for a national youth host program, Tech. Rep. CERIS Working Paper No. 39; 2005.

  6. Planned Parenthood of Toronto. Improving access for newcomer youth to sexual health resources and services. Toronto, Canada: Planned Parenthood of Toronto; 2005.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Morton B, Armstrong B, Oglivie L, Martinex-Oxman J, Rummens J. The new Canadian children and youth study: research to fill a gap in Canada’s Children’s Agenda. Can Divers. 2005:21–4.

  8. Access Alliance Multicultural Community Health Center. Advancing knowledge, informing directions: an assessment of immigrant and refugee needs in Toronto; 2002.

  9. Khanlou N, Crawford C. Post-migratory experiences of newcomer female youth: self-esteem and identity development. J Immigrant Minority Health. 2006;8:45–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Soskolne V, Shtarkshall RA. Migration and HIV prevention programs: linking structural factors, culture, and individual behavior—an Israeli experience. Soc Sci Med. 2002;55(9):1297–307.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Hofrichter R. Health and social justice politics, ideology, and inequity in the distribution of disease. Jossey-Bass; 2003.

  12. Newbold KB, Danforth J. Health status and Canada’s immigrant population. Soc Sci Med. 2003;57(10):1981–95.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Barker G, Olukoya A, Aggleton P. Young people, social support and help-seeking. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2005;17(4):315-35

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team on Young People. Preventing HIV/AIDS in young people: a systematic review of the evidence from developing countries, Tech. Rep. TRS/938. World Health Organization; 2006.

  15. Michaud P, Suris J, Viner R. The adolescent with a chronic condition. WHO discussion papers on adolescence; 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2009.

  16. Gagnon A. Responsiveness of Canadian health care system towards newcomers, Tech. Rep. 40. Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada; 2002.

  17. Sujoldzic A, De Lucia A, Buchegger R, Terzic R, Behluli I, Bajrami Z. A European project on health problems, mental disorders and cross-cultural aspects of developing effective rehabilitation procedures for refugee and immigrant youth. Coll Antropol. 2003;27(1):431–8.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Moss W, Ramakrishnan M, Storms D, Henderson Siegle A, Weiss W, Lejnev I, et al. Child health in complex emergencies. Bull WHO. 2006;84(1):1–80.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hyman I. Immigration and health: Reviewing evidence of healthy immigrant effect in Canada, Tech. Rep. CERIES Working Paper No 55. Toronto: Joint Center of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement; 2007.

  20. Hyman I. Immigration and health, Technical Report, Policy Working Paper Series. Health Canada; 2001.

  21. Dewing M, Leman M. Canadian multiculturalism, Tech. Rep. 93–6E. Parliamentary Research Branch; 2006 (Last revised).

  22. Brooks S. In: Mills D, editor. Canadian democracy: an introduction. 3rd ed. Ontario: Oxford University Press; 2005.

  23. Statistics Canada. Census snapshot-immigration in Canada: a portrait of the foreign-born population, 2006 census, Tech. Rep. 11-008-X; 2008.

  24. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Facts and figures, 2006. Retrieved 1 April 2009.

  25. Khandor E, McDonald J, Nyers P, Wright C. The regularization of non-status immigrants in Canada 1960–2004: past policies, current perspectives, active campaigns; 2004.

  26. Resources and Social Development Canada, Canadian Youth: Who are they and What do they want? Active Employment Measures Policy. January 2005.

  27. Metropolis Virtual Library. Refugee studies; 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2007.

  28. Rousseau C, Drapeau A. Pre-migration exposure to political violence among independent immigrants and its association with emotional stress. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004;192:852–6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Hare FG. Transition without status: the experience of youth leaving care without Canadian citizenship. New Dir Youth Dev. 2007;(113):77–88.

  30. Redfield R, Linton R, Herskovits MJ. Memorandum for the study of acculturation. Am Anthropol. 1936;38:149–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Abraido-Lanza AF, Armbrister AN, Florez KR, Aguirre AN. Toward a theory-driven model of acculturation in public health research. Am J Public Health. 2006;96:1342–5.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Costigan CL, Su TF. Orthogonal versus linear models of acculturation among immigrant Chinese Canadians: a comparison of mothers fathers, and children. Int J Behav Dev. 2004;28:518–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Skreblin L, Sujoldzic A. Acculturation process and its effects on dietary habits, nutritional behavior and body-image in adolescents. Coll Antropol. 2003;27:469–77.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Sharir I. Chinese immigrant youth in Vancouver, Canada: an examination of acculturation, adjustment, and intergenerational conflict. PhD Dissertation, University of Windsor, Ontario, 2002.

  35. Fenta H, Hyman I, Noh S. Determinants of depression among Ethiopian immigrants and refuges in Toronto. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004;192:363–72.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Oppedal B, Røysamb E, Sam DL. The effect of acculturation and social support on change in mental health among young immigrants. Int J Behav Dev. 2004;28:481–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Shik AWY. Battling solitude: the experience of loneliness among Hong Kong Chinese immigrant youth. Diss Abstr Int B Sci Eng. 2004;64.

  38. Georgiades K, Boyle MH, Duku E, Racine Y. Tobacco use among immigrant and nonimmigrant adolescents: individual and family level influences. J Adolesc Health. 2008;38:e1–7.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Chien L, George M, Armstrong R. Country of birth and language spoken at home in relation to illicit substance use. Can J Public Health. 2002;93:188–92.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Greenfield B, Rousseau C, Slatkoff J, Lewkowski M, Davis M, Dube S, et al. Profile of a metropolitan North American immigrant suicidal adolescent population. Can J Psychiatry. 2006;51:155–9.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. Deri C. Social networks and health service utilization. J Health Econ. 2005;24(6):1076–107.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Wright R. Social support and health outcomes in a multicultural urban population. Social Work Health Care. 2006;43:15–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Boyce W. Young people in Canada: their health and well-being—2001/02 HBSC survey. Health Canada; 2004.

  44. Dilmaghani S. Harfha ra mishenavam: we are listening. Family Service Association of Toronto; 2001. Retrieved 1 April 2009.

  45. Khanlou N. Influences on adolescent self-esteem in multicultural Canadian Secondary Schools. Public Health Nurs. 2004;21:404–11.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Scott JL. English language and communication: issues for African and Caribbean immigrant youth in Toronto. Coalition of Visible Minority Women (Ontario) Inc.; 2000.

  47. Bhattacharya S, Kassam A, Siad S. When identity is mix and match. Toronto Star. 2007;A6.

  48. Shahsiah S. Identity, identification, and racialisation: Immigrant youth in the Canadian context, Tech. Rep. CERIS Working Paper No. 49. Toronto: Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement; 2006.

  49. Wilkinson L. Factors influencing the academic success of refugee youth in Canada. J Youth Stud. 2002;5:173–173.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Boyce W, Doherty-Poirier D, MacKinnon D, Fortin C, Saab H, King M, et al. Sexual Health of Canadian Youth: findings from the Canadian Youth Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS study. Can J Hum Sex. 2006;15:59–69.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Wilkinson R. Unhealthy societies— the afflictions of inequality. London: Routledge; 1996.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  52. Ornstain M. Ethno-Racial Groups in Toronto, 1971–2001: a demographic and socio-economic profile. York University, Institute for Social Research, 2006.

  53. Census2006 highlights. Canada.Com; 2007.

  54. Smith A, Lalonde RN, Johnson S. Serial migration and its implications for the parent–child relationship: a retrospective analysis of the experiences of the children of Caribbean immigrants. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2004;10(3):107–22.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. Keung N. Job searchers newcomers sidestep pitfalls. Toronto Star. 2007:A4.

  56. Rousseau C, Drapeau A. Are refugee children an at-risk group? A longitudinal study of Cambodian adolescents. J Refug Stud. 2003;16:67–81.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Hyman I, Vu N, Beiser M. Post-migration stresses among Southeast Asian Refugee Youth in Canada: a research note. J Comp Family Stud. 2000;31:281–93; Spring.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Liban. Settlement and integration services organization (SISO). In: Refugee child health conference, May 2007.

  59. Montgomery C. The “brown paper syndrome”: unaccµompanied minors and questions of status. Refuge. 2002;20(2).

  60. Pierre M. The stakes in the fight against racism and discrimination and the challenge for social work. Nouvelles Pratiques Sociales. 2005;17:12–4.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Flicker S, Guta A. Ethical approaches to adolescent participation in sexual health research. J Adolesc Health. 2008;42(1):3–10.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  62. Minkler M. Community based research partnerships: challenges and opportunities. J Urban Health. 2005;82.

  63. Israel B, Schulz A, Parker E, Becker A. Review of community-based research: assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annu Rev Public Health. 1998;19:173–202.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  64. Flicker S, Larkin J, Flicker S, Fridkin A, Guta A, Pole JD, et al. The Toronto teen survey: a youth-designed tool to generate sexual health programming for a diverse urban centre. In: XVI international AIDS conference; 2006.

  65. Flynn S, Flicker S, Larkin J, Pole JD, Travers R, Palmer H, et al. A tool for addressing youth sexual health in a diverse urban centre. Poster presented at the international conference of community-campus partnerships for health; 2007.

  66. Flicker S, Flynn S, Guta A, Travers R, Larkin J, Pole JD, et al. Survey design from the ground up: collaboratively creating the Toronto teen survey. In: Conference of the Canadian Association for HIV research; 2007.

  67. Zakus D, Cortinois A. Primary health care and community participation: origins, implementation, and future. In: Fried B, Gaydos L, editors. World Health Systems: challenges and perspectives. Chicago: Health Administration Press; 2002. p. 237.

    Google Scholar 

  68. DesMeules M, Gold J, Kazanjian A, Manuel D. New approaches to immigrant health assessment. Can J Public Health. 2004;95:I22.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


The author would like to thank Dr. Sarah Flicker, Dr. Martin Bunch, and Dr. David Zakus for their critical feedback on this manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Roxana Salehi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Salehi, R. Intersection of Health, Immigration, and Youth: A Systematic Literature Review. J Immigrant Minority Health 12, 788–797 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: