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The Health of Migrant Women Working as Home Care Assistants in Italy: An Analysis of the Most Hazardous Factors of Home Care Work

Underserved and Socially Disadvantaged Groups and Linkages with Health and Health Care Differentials

ISBN: 978-1-83867-055-9, eISBN: 978-1-83867-054-2

ISSN: 0275-4959

Publication date: 30 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this chapter was to analyze of the most hazardous aspects of home care work in Italy.

Methodology/Approach

The chapter is based on a multi-method analysis conducted in Italy, including a survey on a sample of 867 home care assistants, and four focus groups organized with home care assistants.

Findings

The data collected show that: (1) there is a strong correlation between the physical and emotional complexity of the work and the workers’ malaise; (2) the live-in formula is not clearly linked with high levels of psychophysical malaise, while isolation is associated much more strongly with a high index of malaise; and (3) violence in the workplace is clearly one of the main risks to which home care assistants are exposed.

Research Limitations/Implications

The findings may suffer from limitations due to the type of data collected. First, it was a convenience survey, so the results are not generalizable and they may be negatively influenced by bias relating to sample self-selection. Second, the empirical research was not designed to investigate occupational health alone, so accurate information on symptoms, causes of ill-health, experiences of violence, and the meaning of respondents’ malaise and of the episodes of violence were not available. Third, with the help of an epidemiologist, we could have included some diagnostic tests to better ascertain the workers’ state of health.

Originality/Value of Paper

The chapter offers an original contribution to sociological research on the occupational health hazards from a gender-specific perspective. First, it investigates workers’ health risks in an understudied and highly feminized and racialized occupational sector. It also analyzes the implications of both the emotional and the body work on the workers’ health. It deals with the correlation between cohabitation and health problems. Finally, it looks into the impact of workplace violence on workers’ health, which is a strongly gendered issue, and rooted in social processes that stigmatize and racialize migrant women employed as home care assistants.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

I am most grateful to the study participants. Thanks also go to ACLI Colf for involving me in the research project and allowing me to use their data. I am also grateful to Gianfranco Zucca and Francesca Scrinzi for their thoughtful comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.

Citation

Vianello, F.A. (2019), "The Health of Migrant Women Working as Home Care Assistants in Italy: An Analysis of the Most Hazardous Factors of Home Care Work", Underserved and Socially Disadvantaged Groups and Linkages with Health and Health Care Differentials (Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Vol. 37), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 239-258. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0275-495920190000037019

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited