Differential Acculturation and its Impact on Well Being among Bangladeshi Migrants Living at Different Densities in the UK

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Anthropology

Abstract

Migration has a significant effect on social and physical well being across the life course. Migrants generally move expecting improved conditions including access to higher levels of education, employment, public services, and health care. The process of acculturation can play a major role in determining well being, particularly for first-generation migrants. It refers to the means by which a minority population adapts to its host culture to include behaviour (such as language, clothing, and social interactions) and beliefs/attitudes prevalent in daily life (such as religious and national identities). Acculturation is thus a measure reflecting social integration, exposure to discrimination, and cultural transitions. Current census and public health data indicate that migrant Bangladeshis in the UK report higher rates of poor health and long term disabilities relative to white British Europeans, but it is unclear whether these complaints reflect conditions brought from Bangladesh or experienced in the UK perhaps in relation to the migration/acculturation experience.
Our proposed project thus comprises an in-depth comparison of the acculturation experiences of multiple generations of British Bangladeshis settled in Northeast UK (NE UK) and London, and its sequelae for mental and physiological well being. Prior researchers have suggested that migrants embedded in large communities are buffered from those stressors connected to migration and acculturation. This is certainly applicable to London Bangladeshis, but we know little about the comparative experiences of similar migrants living in areas with small ethnic minority concentrations. The purpose of this cross-regional study is therefore to compare acculturation and related well being of migrant Bangladeshis in: 1) a densely settled minority context (London), and 2) a sparsely settled context (NE UK). Through questionnaires, interviews, and focus group discussions we will collate and analyse data regarding migration history, acculturation, perceived discrimination, lifestyle and self-reported well being of these UK British-Bangladeshis. Data will be supplemented by salivary biomarkers of stress (cortisol) and health (C-reactive protein).
The combined use of these in-depth qualitative and quantitative data is novel in migrant studies, and will assist us in better assessing how migrant groups integrate into their new host country. Through identifying facilitators and/or barriers to acculturation and how these shape the relationships between cultural adaptation, integration and well being over time for Bangladeshi migrants in two disparate regions of the UK, our Project ultimately aims to provide specific recommendations to relevant professionals for the provision of better directed local and national services to migrant populations.
This work expands successful research programmes (led by Profs Bentley and Curtis) examining the impact of migration on physiology, behaviour and well being in the UK Bangladeshi population. To complete the project proposed here, a team of researchers will spend three years conducting extensive fieldwork and data analyses. We will develop collaborations with academic and non-academic partners linked to public health, and will engage with local authorities (reflecting the existing ethos of our prior studies) to direct our findings toward appropriate modifications to local community structure and service provision. In sum, our long term aim is to ensure migration translates into optimal welfare and social integration. This represents a move toward attenuating social inequalities for which ethnic groups appear most vulnerable. Overall the project findings will have applicability for contexts relating to local, national and international migration particularly among South Asians in the UK. This work is novel and significant in comparing two very different UK regions and in integrating both qualitative and quantitative data.

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries of the research include health and social policy makers from local authorities, strategic health authorities and health care providers plus third sector intermediaries between the former organisations and community users. All of these will benefit from accessing more detailed information than currently exists concerning regional patterns of acculturation and well being for which Bangladeshi migrants may seek help, or be urged to seek help. More broadly, the NHS will benefit from having collated information about regional differences in health between NE UK and London and how these differences relate to overall variations and inequalities in health across the UK. Our work may also help in designing early interventions to prevent later health issues from arising.
We can no longer accept that poor physical and mental health is an uncontrollable consequence of migration. Equally we cannot assume that all populations adapt to variations in environments at similar speeds. We must ensure that service providers account for cultural and regional variations in public health knowledge, access to health and social services, and beliefs and health behaviours of different populations. Furthermore we cannot assume individuals in our diverse society fully understand UK health and social infrastructures. Liaison with local policy makers at an early stage will ensure our research makes a difference. We will seek their views and establish what changes have already taken place and discuss their efficacy. The economic and social implications of this research will include the long term gains made in alleviating pressures on public health and social services whose resources are already stretched. Our findings about integration and acculturation can also help policy makers who are influential in determining political and social agendas in relation to ethnic minorities and migrants, and social workers who are interested in potential interventions to improve health. Above all, beneficiaries will include Bangladeshi communities in the UK since the project will serve to provide us with regional information about the impact of migration on health and stress and seeks to involve their input as the work progresses.
Finally, we plan to disseminate our work to Bangladeshis still living in Sylhet from where most future migrants are likely to originate. There appear to be many misconceptions about life in Britain following migration, primarily because remittances from the UK and other countries provide the bulk of economic income to Sylhet. It will undoubtedly be helpful for potential future migrants to appreciate the real economic, social and health problems that can face them when they anticipate making this challenging transition.
Our experience has shown that valid results from research can take time to realise and are likely to have maximum impact when we begin to analyse data that have been collected. Benefits are likely to be realised during the third and final years of the Project and thereafter. However, we do have earlier data from our prior projects that we can already translate into health messages to the local Bangladeshi community that can provide some early benefits. This will also help us to cement relationships with community organizations as we develop connections in NE UK.
Staff working on the project will receive thorough training (via Durham University HR or external courses, or directly from the PIs) and will have the opportunity to develop skills in the following areas: communication, teamwork, leadership, time management, ethnographic fieldwork, anthropometrics, laboratory work for the analyses of salivary biomarkers, qualitative and quantitative analyses including the use of Nvivo and statistics, data management, community education, presentations, publications, web design, media work and liaison with multidisciplinary service delivery groups.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The Project compared levels of acculturation and health among more densely populated, Bangladeshi migrants in London with Bangladeshi migrants living at lower ethnic densities in northeast England. It addressed whether northeast Bangladeshis are: a) more integrated, b) experience more discrimination and racism, c) have poorer health, d) make greater demands of health services, and e) require fewer social services compared to London migrants.
We achieved our target of recruiting 540 participants into the Project (total n=562). Key findings are that northeastern Bangladeshis are: 1) significantly less acculturated than London Bangladeshis (and London men are more acculturated than London women), 2) experience greater degrees of discrimination, 3) report better health, 4) access practice nurses, but not GPs, more often, and 5) use fewer local social services. Overall, length of time spent in the UK (i.e., being second generation) resulted in greater acculturation, as did higher levels of education and income. These findings will prove useful in informing local councils, for example, how to direct services towards ethnic and migrant populations.
Significantly more people in London reported higher incomes compared to the northeast, but more Londoners received both child and housing benefits despite family sizes being smaller than the northeast. More people in London were renters as opposed to home owners, probably reflecting higher housing costs in the capital. Northeasterners use fewer local services but also report having less available. It is possible that, in comparing north and south, we are observing a "London" effect in terms of higher acculturation/lower discrimination as well as greater measures of inequality between families. Perhaps more densely populated, Bangladeshi migrant populations living in Birmingham, for example, might be different. Further studies could address these issues.
In relation to health, second-generation Bangladeshis had higher levels of inflammation (measured from salivary C-reactive protein) compared to the first-generation which might place them at greater risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. We hypothesize that these differences relate to developmental conditions experienced in early life. About two-thirds of participants, overall, had abdominal obesity and one-third were generally obese, also increasing disease risks including type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, more highly acculturated individuals, those who reported greater discrimination, and those who had physical limitations were more stressed (measured from salivary cortisol levels).
We are delighted with the richness of our results and our ability to use these to inform community and government contacts who can assist ethnic groups. Our next task is to develop this outreach further.
Exploitation Route There are several ways in which these findings can be built upon by others. First, our findings in relation to acculturation are useful in pointing out what factors assist migrants groups in identifying with their host culture. While length of time being exposed to the host culture is one factor, key variables included being better educated, and having jobs that lead to people identifying as financially secure. Ensuring migrants have access to education and employment is therefore critical. Our health findings, again, point to the importance of assessing generation as a factor in evaluating health of migrants rather than lumping them as one group. Poverty reduction strategies, health education and behavioral changes may help in tackling the high prevalence of obesity among Bangladeshis living in England.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

URL https://www.dur.ac.uk/research/directory/staff/?id=4377
 
Description We have been involved in community outreach to inform the Bangladeshi community in NE UK and London about our research. This has resulted in a significant amount of media coverage of our work within the South Asian community as indicated further under engagement activities. Further work in the next year will help to consolidate these activities and will help to inform policy makers in greater detail about our findings. I am also applying for one of the newly announced Parliamentary Academic Fellowships which, if successful, would allow me to become more familiar with policy processes and to ensure better policy use of our data about migration. Furthermore, I am in the process of creating new contacts in Rome, Toronto and New York among people who work with Bangladeshi migrant populations in these large cities with the goal of making our work with UK Bangladeshis more widely known in terms of making comparisons of how successful integration policies might be in different country/city settings with a specific migrant group. This is of course work in progress and I will report further as these endeavours unfold.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Membership of Advisory Group
Geographic Reach Australia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
Impact Part of an international advisory group called Gravida based in New Zealand which is interested in the effects of early life on later life health and advises the New Zealand Government
URL http://www.gravida.org.nz/what-we-do/research-findings-and-impacts
 
Description ESRC/BBSRC joint research call on epigenetics 2014/15
Amount £198,339 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2015 
End 10/2017
 
Description Research Fellowship
Amount £39,364 (GBP)
Organisation Berlin Institute for Advanced Study 
Sector Academic/University
Country Germany
Start 07/2012 
End 08/2013
 
Description The Cultural Determinants of Health 
Organisation University College London
Department Institute of Immunity and Transplantation
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Gillian Bentley collaborated with Prof David Napier in writing a grant to the Wellcome Trust that was shortlisted for interview but subsequently not funded that was designed to develop an instrument in the field to assess cultural vulnerabilities to health among migrant groups. My contribution was in work already undertaken and relationships forged among Bangladeshis as well as work completed in general on the topic among migrants.
Collaborator Contribution Prof Napier was developing the tool for this work and had conducted a lot of fieldwork assessing the tool in different contexts
Impact The collaboration is multi-disciplinary and involved other collaborators. We wrote a grant together and will continue to seek other sources of funding for the work.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Community Activity 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Led to increased involvement of specific individuals with aspects of our research in a participatory way

Increased snowballing of contacts
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Community Advisory Group Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Talks helped to inform various decisions we are making about our project and outreach

Helpful in process of increasing visibility of our project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Community Engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Community engagement activity to involve local Bangladeshi community in a participatory way with ongoing research

Led to continuing contacts and engagement with the local Bangladeshi community
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Community Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We held a community event in Newcastle to inform participants, policy makers, health workers, local councillors and politicians about our findings and to solicit feedback. We made presentations and also held round tables to facilitate feedback.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.dur.ac.uk/research/directory/staff/?id=4377
 
Description Community Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We held a community event in London to summarise our findings. We invited participants, other Bangladeshis, media, politicians and counsellors, health sector workers, charitable workers and others. We made presentations, invited audience feedback and participation and held round tables to solicit some feedback.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.dur.ac.uk/research/directory/staff/?id=4377
 
Description Community Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Talk stimulated discussion and questions and there was significant media activity from this event.

Various Media Coverage that reached a national audience of Bangladeshis in UK: ATN Bangla UK TV. It starts at 8.47 minutes. Channel S news (no clip).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkNrj87yOCU#t=27
 
Description Community event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Talk stimulated lots of discussion and ideas for future community involvement. We had media coverage from TV and other channels. Event was so recent we do not yet have URLs

Impact from media coverage
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Media Report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A report on our Community Event in Newcastle in order to maximise impact of the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.english.gbnews24.com/?p=423
 
Description Media coverage TV 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A TV broadcast was made of the NE Community event in Nov 2015 and sent out on the following Bangla channerls: S-TV, ATN-Bangla, Channel 1 and N-TV.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.facebook.com/mohammed.alamgir.16/videos/10206711756747063/
 
Description Media event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Informed Bangladeshis around the country about our work as well as letting them know about health risks. With Betar Bangla Radio

Media coverage led to phone in and comments/questions by the public, requests for more information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Media event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The activity just took place and the media interview will be available to the public Friday (14th November 2014) 9:30pm UK time. Amader khobor (our news), Channel-I (Sky 833).

pending
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://channelieurope.tv/
 
Description Media event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact pending - an interview to be published in a Bangla Magazine called 'Probash' which will be publised in their next issue (in two weeks - around 27th Nov 2014) with some pictures.

pending
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description School outreach 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Introduced school students to university research and education about science

School children reported more interest in attending university later in life
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Scientific Advisory Committee Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact helped to inform progress in initial planning of ESRC grant

Helped to inform our work
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Scientific Advisory Group Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We held a meeting in London with our scientific advisory group. Altogether there were 8 attendees and we updated our advisors about our progress and received feedback and suggestions about the next step. We also discussed future collaborative activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description TedX talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Has resulted in greater publicity for our Project and individuals associated with it

People we meet mention that they have accessed the talk and it has raised interest in our work as well as given it greater legitimacy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjO0epSuMwA