Academic journal article Research and Theory for Nursing Practice

A Situation-Specific Theory of Migration Transition for Migrant Farmworker Women

Academic journal article Research and Theory for Nursing Practice

A Situation-Specific Theory of Migration Transition for Migrant Farmworker Women

Article excerpt

This article proposes a situation-specific theory of migration transition for migrant farmworker women (MFW). The following themes were identified: (a) migration patterns, (b) awareness of critical markers, (c) time between awareness and engagement, (d) decision making, (e) differences between expected and actual transition experiences, and (f) personal identities. Participants identified conditions that supported and prevented a healthy migration transition including personal identities, family support, faith-based and community health outreach services, immigration/documentation status, and respect. Women recognized a sense of peace as a healthy transition response. The proposed theory offers an understanding of migration transition and provides a practical theoretical perspective for nurses and other health care professionals who implement and coordinate health care for MFW.

Keywords: situation-specific theory; transition theory; transitions; migrant farmworkers; migration

An accurate count of people participating in migrant farmwork is not clearly established, but best estimates (Boucher & Schenker, 2002; Carroll, Samardick, Bernard, Gabbard, & Hernandez, 2005) indicate there are between 4 and 5 million seasonal and migrant farmworkers in the United States. Although some farmworkers remain in a single geographic location over an agricultural period, approximately 42% migrate (Carroll et al., 2005). Researchers are particularly challenged to study women in migrant farmwork as a result of farmworker group migration (e.g. farm to farm, interstate and intrastate, or internationally), differences in identification and counting between agencies of different states, and limited sampling methods. Yet current data suggest that migrant farmworker women (MFW) are part of a seriously impoverished (Carroll et al., 2005), predominately uninsured, and medically underserved (Parra-Cardona, Bulock, Imig, Villarruel, & Gold, 2006) population that, not surprisingly, experiences disproportionate health disparities (Villarejo, 2003).

The literature indicates that MFW are predominately Mexican or Mexican American and are more frequently authorized (56%) or documented (39%) workers than men (Carroll et al., 2005). They are more often (33%) born in the United States and more frequently (24%) legal permanent residents than men (21%). Also, women (74%) are more likely to live with their nuclear families than men (27%) and more farmworker mothers (91%) migrate with their children than do fathers (42%) in farmwork (Dalla & Christensen 2005). With respect to health status, domestic violence among MFW is between 17% and 50% (Gorton & Van Hightower, 1999; Rodriguez, 1998; Van Hightower & Dorsey, 2001) and they experience greater levels of acculturative stress, depression, suicidal ideation (Hovey & Magaña, 2002), sadness, and loneliness (Farr & Wilson-Figueroa, 1997) than male migrant farmworkers. Infant mortality rates among MFW are nearly twice that of national rates (Slesinger, 1992) and MFW are less likely to have annual health screenings than African American or White women (Skaer, Robison, Sclar, & Harding, 1996). Complex social, political, and cultural factors intersect to influence the health of MFW as they migrate. Uncovering these factors may more clearly delineate an understanding of their health and encourage development and coordination of evidence-based interventions for MFW.

Im and Meleis (1999b) suggested that one way to increase knowledge and understanding of complex health-related phenomena is to use situation-specific theories. Situation-specific, or practice (Peterson & Bredow, 2004) theories, focus on specific phenomena, are limited to specific populations or particular areas of practice, and are located within a social or historical context (Im & Meleis, 1999a). These theories are appropriate for nursing, a dedicated practice-oriented discipline, which seeks to base practice on a knowledge base through research and practice efforts (Im, 2005). …

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