Purpose: To explore the meaning of health among midlife Russian-speaking women from the former Soviet Union.
Design and Methodology: A hermeneutic phenomenological design was used. Study participants included 12 Russian-speaking women ages 40–61, who also spoke English and had migrated to the United States after 1991.
Findings: These themes were identified: health as being highly valued, though less of a priority during immigration; being a stranger and seeking the familiar; grieving and loss and building a new life; experiencing changes and transitions; trusting self; and the importance of hope.
Conclusions: Although health was less of a priority during the immigration process, the women valued and were knowledgeable about health, participated in self-care practices, trusted their own abilities to make self-care decisions, and sought health-related information. This is a vulnerable population at risk for the onset of chronic medical conditions associated with the process of aging, past exposures, the tendency to avoid health screening, and current stressors related to immigration and family responsibilities. Implications include the need for interventions to build trust, assess self-care practices, and understand values and beliefs concerning health screening. Future research recommendations include replication with other samples within this population and exploring curative beliefs and practices more fully. Ultimately, this study design could be applied to other immigrant populations in Western cultures.
Clinical Relevance: Midlife Russian speaking women from the former Soviet Union are a vulnerable group at risk for the onset of chronic medical conditions associated with aging, past exposures, the tendency to avoid health screening, and current stressors related to immigration and family responsibilities.