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Decomposing intersectional inequalities in subjective physical and mental health by sex, gendered practices and immigration status in a representative panel study from Germany

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Lisa Wandschneider, Céline Miani, Oliver Razum

In: BMC Public Health 22 (2022), 1, 683


Background: The mapping of immigration-related health inequalities remains challenging, since immigrant populations constitute a heterogenous socially constructed group whose health experiences differ by social determinants of health. In spite of the increasing awareness that population mobility and its effects on health are highly gendered, an explicit gender perspective in epidemiology is often lacking or limited. Methods: To map inequalities in self-reported physical and mental health in Germany at the intersections of sex, gendered practices and immigration status, we used data from the German Socioeconomic Panel (SOEP) and applied an intercategorical intersectional approach conducting multilevel linear regression models. We differentiated between sex (male/female) as reported in the survey and gendered social practices, quantified through a gender score (on a femininity-masculinity continuum). Results: We included 20,897 participants in our analyses. We saw an intersectional gradient for physical and mental health. Compared to the reference group, i.e. non-immigrant males with masculine gendered practices, physical and mental health steadily decreased in the intersectional groups that did not embody one or more of these social positions. The highest decreases in health were observed in the intersectional group of immigrant females with feminine gendered practices for physical health (-1,36; 95% CI [-2,09; -0,64]) and among non-immigrant females with feminine practices for mental health (-2,51; 95% CI [-3,01; -2,01]). Conclusions: Patterns of physical and mental health vary along the intersectional axes of sex, gendered practices and immigration status. These findings highlight the relevance of intersections in describing population health statuses and emphasise the need to take them into account when designing public health policies aiming at effectively reducing health inequalities.

Keywords: Health inequalities; Intersectionality; Social determinants of health; Immigration; Sex; Gender; Gender performance
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