J Health Dispar Res Pract. 2014 Winter;7(5):13-31.
OBJECTIVE: Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in the United States. Chronic disease management occurs within all aspects of an individual’s life, including the workplace. Though the social constructs of gender, race, class, and immigration status within the workplace have been considered, their connection to disease management among workers has been less explicitly explored. Using a sample of immigrant hotel housekeepers, we explored the connections between these four social constructs and hypertension management.
METHODS: This qualitative research study was guided by critical ethnography methodology. Twenty-seven hotel room cleaners and four housemen were recruited (N = 31) and invited to discuss their experiences with hypertension and hypertension management within the context of their work environments.
RESULTS: Being a woman worker within the hotel industry was perceived to negatively influence participants’ experience with hypertension and hypertension management. In contrast, being a woman played a protective role outside the workplace. Being an immigrant played both a positive and a negative role in hypertension and its management. Being black and from a low socioeconomic class had only adverse influences on participants’ experience with hypertension and its management.
CONCLUSION: Being a woman, black, lower class, and an immigrant simultaneously contribute to immigrant hotel housekeepers’ health and their ability to effectively manage their hypertension. The connection between these four constructs (gender, race, class, and immigration status) and disease management must be considered during care provision. Hotel employers and policy stakeholders need to consider those constructs and how they impact workers’ well-being. More studies are needed to identify what mitigates the associations between the intersectionality of these constructs and immigrant workers’ health and disease management within their work environment.