Healthy immigrant effect in non–European Union immigrants in Portugal: after a decade of (non-)integration!

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Objectives: The aim of the study was to characterise the existence of the healthy immigrant effect (HIE; better health initially, worsening with an increase in the length of residence) in a big city from a Western European country, particularly in a non–European Union immigrant population. Study design: This is a cross-sectional study. Methods: We used data from the National Health Survey 2014 to compare the health status of the immigrant and Portuguese populations with different lengths of residence. After descriptive statistics, binary logistic regressions models, with adjusted levels and 95% confidence intervals, were used. Results: Immigrants were healthier than the Portuguese population (<10 years: odds ratio [OR] = 0.07; 95% confidence interval [CI] = [0.01; 0.51]; ≥10 years: OR = 0.62; 95% CI = [0.19; 2.03]), but had an increased likelihood of suffering from chronic diseases and risk behaviours with the increase in their length of stay in Portugal. After living in Portugal for more than 10 years, the immigrants showed no statistical difference in the main health indicators. Conclusions: There was a tendency for the health status of immigrants to deteriorate over 10 years of residence in Portugal. To better understand the reasons behind the HIE, specific and tailored studies must be developed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-100
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Healthy immigrant effect
  • Immigration
  • non-EU immigrants
  • Public health


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