Health and welfare among Thai migrant women in Sweden : Lived experiences of marriages migration

Abstract: Background:This dissertation uses Betty Neuman’s nursing theory within the caring sciences to enable in-depth knowledge regarding Thai women’s health in the context of marriage migration. Globalisation has provided new opportunities for marriage migration, for example for Thai women to move to Western countries to improve their lives and wellbeing. Western men seem to offer financial security and better living conditions, but are increased wealth and health really what marriage migration entails?Aim:The overall aim of this thesis was to explore what contributes to the health and wellness of Thai immigrant women living in Sweden.Methods:Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 40 women, using the sample criteria: (a) born in Thailand and self-identifying as Thai; (b) having lived in Sweden for at least five years; and (c) currently married or previously married/in a relationship with a Swedish man. Content analysis was used in Studies I and IV, phenomenography in Study II, and critical incidents methodology in Study III, to analyse the data.Results:Most interviewees came to Sweden dreaming of a better life. Study I: This dream was seldom realised, however, with 18 of 40 interviewees experiencing intimate partner violence in their marriages. Study II: The interviewed women experienced transnational family responsibilities based on traditional cultural beliefs and the Buddhist religion. These consisted of being a dutiful daughter, a caring mother, a kind relative, and a ‘giving’ person, as well as striving for a wealthy life. Study III: The women reported 438 critical health incidents in five main areas: psychological, sociocultural, physiological, developmental, and spiritual. Study IV: Remaining in a marriage was the woman’s vital objective in finding wealth and wellbeing. While one woman had chosen an independent female lifestyle, the others suggested using strategies such as not giving up hope; being honest and diplomatic; mutual care and respect; and continuous caretaking. According to most of them, cultural differences could be negotiated and transformed by caring, sharing, and remaining calm in everyday family situations.Conclusion:Scientific knowledge based on interdisciplinary research can contribute to increased awareness of vulnerable groups’ limited access to health and welfare. Marriage migration often leads to a particularly vulnerable position, which has a major impact on women’s health. The transnational family responsibility that often accompanies immigration contributes to negative effects on women’s quality of life, as supporting family and relatives in the home country entails a lifelong commitment that can erode both their relationship with their husband as well as their own health.Keywords: marriage migration; domestic violence; women’s health and wellbeing 

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