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2022-23 ZICUSO BC Research

The Great Zimbabwe Cultural Society of British Columbia (ZICUSO BC) is collaborating with Adler University – Vancouver Campus on research to identify which social determinants of health have the biggest impact on black immigrants from Africa. This research is funded by Vancouver Foundation under the Participatory Action Research Grants program.

Research Outline

The research question is, which social determinants of health contribute the most to the decline in the health and well-being of black African immigrants in British Columbia (BC)?

The World Health Organization defines social determinants of health as “the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems.”

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This exploratory study focuses on the deterioration of the health and well-being of black African immigrants in BC. The motivation for the research is the ‘healthy immigrant effect’: that immigrants are healthier than the general Canadian population upon arrival, but their health and well-being decline with time in Canada (Lou & Beaujot 2005; Vang et. al., 2015). Hospitalization statistics and anecdotal (informal) evidence show that other types of health problems are underreported because of cultural practices, gender issues, stigma, structural conditions, and the fact that the illness may be considered minor. There is a stigma surrounding conditions like stress, depression, mental health, and HIV, so people only seek medical attention when the diseases have progressed. In addition, some of the illnesses like diet-related, sleep disorders, mental health issues, sexually related, and fertility have cultural connotations. 


The main objectives of this study are:  

  1. To identify which social determinants of health have the biggest negative impact on the health of African immigrants and help mitigate their effects. 
  1. To work with African communities to identify the health challenges they are facing and improve health outcomes. 
  1. To develop research questions for further empirical research. 

Research Team 

Dr. Vongai Nyamandi, Dr. Calisto Mudzingwa, and Dr. Lawrence Chidzambwa are assisted by the ZICUSO BC executive team in the research.