CHA News Article

Report Examines How Fear and Toxic Stress Affect Health of Immigrant Families

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation analyzes how uncertainty over immigration policy can lead to fear and toxic stress that impact well-being and health. To gather data, researchers conducted focus groups with 100 parents from 15 countries and 13 interviews with pediatricians to gain insight into how the current environment is affecting the daily lives, well-being, and health of immigrant families, including their children. Key findings include:

  • Immigrant families, including those with lawful status, are experiencing resounding levels of fear and uncertainty.
  • Parents and pediatricians said that racism and discrimination, including bullying of children, have significantly increased since the election.
  • Daily life has become more difficult for immigrant families due to increased fear and uncertainty.
  • Most parents said they are continuing to access health care for their children and maintaining their children’s Medicaid and CHIP coverage, but there were some reports of changes in health care use and decreased participation in programs.
  • Increased fears are having significant negative effects on the health and well-being of children that have lifelong consequences.

The national debate surrounding federal immigration policies provides an important opportunity for hospitals to reinforce the bond they have with patients and their local communities. Accordingly, CHA has developed the Reassuring Our Communities Communications Toolkit, which includes background information and sample content for use with internal and external audiences. The materials, many of which are in both English and Spanish, are formatted in Microsoft Word so they can be easily customized. The toolkit also includes samples of hospital policies and communications materials. CHA has also developed strategies for enrolling undocumented individuals, available online.