• Refugee Migration to Germany: a magnifying glass for broader Public Health challenges (PH-LENS)

    © Universität Bielefeld

Research areas

Contextual influences on health

The research area "Contextual Influences on Health" including the subprojects NEXUS, LARGE and DEPRIV investigates factors that are connected with the neighborhood of population groups.

These can be divided into factors of the physical environment

• e.g. air pollution and access to green spaces in the neighborhood

and in factors of the social environment

• e.g. a low level of confidence and high unemployment.

Context factors can influence health independently of individual risk factors such as smoking or unemployment. This is of great importance for the health care system, since regional living conditions and thus life chances in Germany are different. With regard to health inequalities arising from such contextual influences, some groups of the population are disadvantaged, such as refugees and asylum seekers.

As a research group, we postulate that lessons can be drawn from the study of certain disadvantaged groups to reduce inequalities that apply to all population groups.

Resilience of the health care system

The research area "Resilience of the Healthcare System" including the subprojects PROREF, NEXUS, TREAT and EMPOW investigates in wider societal factors. Since not all population groups residing in Germany have equal access to the health care they need - e.g. through cultural or German language barriers faced by immigrants - it affects their chances of achieving the best possible health outcomes. Resilience of the health care system refers to the ability of health care systems to adapt to constantly changing conditions and unexpected and challenging developments.

The goal is

• to broaden the discussion on the resilience of health care systems, as this has not yet been examined in Germany for changes caused by migrants or other disadvantaged population groups with their special needs.

• to find suitable concepts and instruments for evaluation and to develop approaches to improve the resilience of the health care system.

Othering' and its effects on health

The research area " 'Othering' and its effects on health" with the subprojects PROREF, EMPOW and OTHER serves as an important theoretical link between the factors of the research areas mentioned above.
The research perspective 'Othering' is used to analyze how refugees are positioned as others on the basis of categorical distinctions and social attributions and how health inequalities are created by this positioning.
In the PH-LENS research unit, the focus on othering processes forms a 'link' between socio-spatial-contextual and institutional factors, which in their interaction in various areas of health care and the socio-spatial environment condense into an accumulation of exclusions and disadvantages. The analytical linkage of these areas via 'Othering' is an overarching goal of the research group.

Our goal is

• to identify health inequalities and to determine the mechanisms underlying them, including social exclusion processes,
• to formulate concepts and strategies for their reduction.

Survey methods in marginalized groups

The research area "Survey methods in marginalized groups" including the sub-project ENSURE takes over the quality assurance of the measuring instruments in PH-LENS. In projects of the research group, survey data are obtained from studies of refugees and other diverse population groups. Newly developed as well as existing standardized measuring instruments are examined for their applicability in these specific populations. Securing the measurement variance is currently a central challenge in intercultural surveys - to put it more simple, we investigate whether a question, e.g. in a questionnaire, measures the same thing in different heterogeneous population groups.

The research area aims to

• ensure high measurement quality and measurement invariance of the adapted questionnaires used in PH-LENS in heterogeneous groups of refugees.

• investigate relevant methods regarding their effect on measurement quality and measurement invariance.

• compare statistical methods of measurement invariance analysis.

Synergies and synthesis of the research unit

The research area "Synergies and synthesis of research results" including the sub-project COOREQ will coordinate the overall cooperation of all other sub-projects in PH-LENS. COOREQ will facilitate an iterative synthesis of research findings across sub-projects and disciplines through organizing

• data sharing within the research unit;

• a series of dedicated joint project meetings and workshops, including a conference with input from international experts.

Moreover, COOREQ will ensure that equity measures are implemented and that young researchers are supported in the RU. COOREQ is thus crucial for ensuring that the added value of the PH-LENS RU – beyond the achievements of the individual sub-projects – will be realized.