When the right to be counted doesn’t count : the politics and challenges of researching the health of asylum seekers

Correa-Velez, Ignacio & Gifford, Sandra (2007) When the right to be counted doesn’t count : the politics and challenges of researching the health of asylum seekers. Critical Public Health, 17(3), pp. 273-281.

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A fundamental prerequisite of population health research is the ability to establish an accurate denominator. This in turn requires that every individual in the study population is counted. However, this seemingly simple principle has become a point of conflict between researchers whose aim is to produce evidence of disparities in population health outcomes and governments whose policies promote(intentionally or not) inequalities that are the underlying causes of health disparities. Research into the health of asylum seekers is a case in point. There is a growing body of evidence documenting the adverse affects of recent changes in asylum-seeking legislation, including mandatory detention. However, much of this evidence has been dismissed by some governments as being unsound, biased and unscientific because, it is argued, evidence is derived from small samples or from case studies. Yet, it is the policies of governments that are the key barrier to the conduct of rigorous population health research on asylum seekers. In this paper, the authors discuss the challenges of counting asylum seekers and the limitations of data reported in some industrialized countries. They argue that the lack of accurate statistical data on asylum seekers has been an effective neo-conservative strategy for erasing the health inequalities in this vulnerable population, indeed a strategy that renders invisible this population. They describe some alternative strategies that may be used by researchers to obtain denominator data on hard-to-reach populations such as asylum seekers.

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ID Code: 55116
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: asylum seekers, research, barriers to data, hard-to-reach populations, health inequalities
DOI: 10.1080/09581590701247999
ISSN: 1469-3682
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Epidemiology (111706)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 Routledge
Deposited On: 26 Nov 2012 22:35
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2013 02:12

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