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Soc Sci Med. 2017 Jun;183:70-79. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.04.048. Epub 2017 Apr 27.

Transnationalism and health: A systematic literature review on the use of transnationalism in the study of the health practices and behaviors of migrants.

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Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, USA. Electronic address:
Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, México.
Department of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, USA.
Puentes a la Salud Comunitaria, A. C., México.
Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, USA.


Transnationalism explores social, economic and political processes that occur beyond national borders and has been widely used in migration studies. We conducted a systematic review to explore if and how transnationalism has been used to study migrants' health and what a transnational perspective contributes to understanding health practices and behaviors of transnational migrants. We identified 26 empirical studies published in peer-reviewed journals that included a transnational perspective to study migrants' health practices and behaviors. The studies describe the ways in which migrants travel back and forth between countries of destination to countries of origin to receive health care, for reasons related to cost, language, and perceptions of service quality. In addition, the use of services in countries of origin is related to processes of social class transformation and reclaiming of social rights. For those migrants who cannot travel, active participation in transnational networks is a crucial way to remotely access services through phone or email, and to acquire medical supplies and other health-related goods (traditional medicine, home remedies). We conclude with recommendations for future research in this area.


Health behaviors; Health practices; Healthcare; Migrants; Transnationalism

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