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Health-related quality of life and migration: A cross-sectional study on elderly Iranians in Sweden

Afsaneh Koochek1*, Ali Montazeri2, Sven-Erik Johansson1 and Jan Sundquist13

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Family and Community Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge, Sweden

2 Iranian Institute for Health Sciences Research, Tehran, Iran

3 Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, California, USA

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2007, 5:60  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-5-60

Published: 23 November 2007



Although elderly Iranian immigrants in Sweden are the largest elderly group born outside Europe, little is known about their health-related quality of life (HRQL). The aim of this study was to examine the association between migration status and HRQL in a comparison of elderly Iranians in Iran, elderly Iranian immigrants in Sweden, and elderly Swedes in Sweden.


The Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) was administered to a total of 625 men and women aged 60–84 years to collect HRQL information on elderly Iranians in Sweden (n = 176) and elderly Iranians in Iran (n = 298). A Swedish control group (n = 151) was also randomly selected from the general population. Multiple linear regression procedures were applied to analyze data while adjusting for age, which was categorized into 60–69, and 70–84 years, and education.


Iranian women in Sweden with shorter times of residence scored lower on vitality (β-coefficient = -7.9, 95% CI = -14.3 to -1.5) compared with other women in this study. The lower vitality dimension score remained nearly unchanged in the main model (β-coefficient = -7.3, 95% CI = -13.7 to -0.9). A longer period of residence in Sweden had a positive association with social functioning (β-coefficient = 14.1, 95% CI = 3.1–25.1) and role limitation due to emotional problems (β-coefficient = 18.3, 95% CI = 1.4–35.2) among elderly Iranian women. In general, the Swedish subsample scores higher on all dimensions of the SF-36 among women and in six out of eight among men in relation to the rest of the subsamples.


The HRQL of elderly Iranians in Sweden was more like that of their countrymen in Iran than that of Swedes, who reported a better HRQL than Iranians in this study. However, length of time since migration to Sweden is not associated with poorer HRQL among elderly Iranians. The association varied, however, with sex. Elderly Iranian women showed an increase in two of eight dimensions of the SF-36 with additional years in Sweden, whereas, among elderly Iranian men, additional years in Sweden were not associated with HRQL.