Migrant mental health and representation in routine administrative registers

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There has been an increase in the use of registers and record linkages to study
migrant mental health. However, the accuracy of these registers and the degree to which they are representative of the migrant population in Northern Ireland (NI) are unclear. This study explored: (i) the coverage of the NI migrant population in GP data and Census records, (ii) the issues faced by migrants in terms of registering and accessing the local health system; and (iii) the reporting of racial hate crimes against migrants to police.

Two focus groups of professionals (n=17) who worked with migrants were
conducted. Group discussions were guided by a research-informed topic guide and the data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings: Three main themes emerged: (i) Issues with the use of GP registration, Census and hate crime data for researching migrant mental health (ii) Barriers to health service use (eg low cultural awareness among health staff and access to interpreters) and (iii) Risk factor exposure and mental health status in migrant communities (e.g. poverty, isolation and poor working conditions).

Originality/ value: Record linkage and registry studies of migrant health and well-being using Census and health service sources need to be mindful of the likelihood that some migrants may be missed. The possible underrepresentation of migrants in health registers may be explained by reduced use of such services which may be caused my encountering staff with limited cultural competency and the inability to access an interpreter promptly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
JournalInternational Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care
Issue number1
Early online date10 Oct 2017
Publication statusEarly online date - 10 Oct 2017


  • migrant, health, social care, representation, registers

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