International perspective on health literacy and health equity: Factors that influence the former Soviet Union immigrants

Uliana Kostareva, Cheryl L. Albright, Eva Maria Berens, Diane Levin-Zamir, Altyn Aringazina, Maria Lopatina, Luba L. Ivanov, Tetine L. Sentell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Among the world’s 272 million international migrants, more than 25 million are from the former Soviet Union (FSU), yet there is a paucity of literature available about FSU immigrants’ health literacy. Besides linguistic and cultural differences, FSU immigrants often come from a distinct healthcare system affecting their ability to find, evaluate, process, and use health information in the host countries. In this scoping review and commentary, we describe the health literacy issues of FSU immigrants and provide an overview of FSU immigrants’ health literacy based on the integrated health literacy model. We purposefully consider the three most common locations where FSU immigrants have settled: the USA, Germany, and Israel. For context, we describe the healthcare systems of the three host countries and the two post-Soviet countries to illustrate the contribution of system-level factors on FSU immigrants’ health literacy. We identify research gaps and set a future research agenda to help understand FSU immigrants’ health literacy across countries. Amidst the ongoing global population changes related to international migration, this article contributes to a broad-scope understanding of health literacy among FSU immigrants related to the system-level factors that may also apply to other immigrants, migrants, and refugees.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2155
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - 24 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Access to care
  • Healthcare system
  • Immigrant
  • Migrant
  • Refugee
  • Russian-speaking
  • Soviet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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