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Cross-Cultural Researchers’ Positionality in Immigrant Health Research: Reflections on Conducting Research on Chinese Immigrants’ Experiences in the United States

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While a growing body of research has examined immigrants’ health generally, less is known specifically about the impact of immigration policy on the health of Chinese immigrants, the second-largest foreign-born population in the United States. This is due, in part, to the lack of methodologically well-trained, cross-cultural researchers who have both the cultural and linguistic expertise and health knowledge to engage with Chinese immigrant populations. This paper addresses this gap by examining Chinese cross-cultural researchers’ roles in the qualitative phase of the Research on ImmiGrant HealTh and State policy (RIGHTS) project, which sought to assess how immigration policies shaped Chinese and other immigrants’ experiences in healthcare and other related sectors in California. We used reflexivity to assess Chinese cross-cultural researchers’ positionality of insiderness and outsiderness and its influence on the process of data collection (i.e., recruitment, conducting interviews, transcription, and translation). Our reflexivity guides the assessment of the opportunities (e.g., expanding the recruitment pool, engaging participants more effectively in interviews, ensuring data integrity, and discussing heterogeneity within the Chinese immigrant community) and challenges (e.g., the difficulty of recruiting low-income and undocumented immigrants, addressing participants’ in-depth thoughts, the time-consuming nature of transcription and translation, and the assessment of power dynamics) in conducting immigrant health research with the Chinese community. These results highlight the need for cross-cultural researchers to help build trusting relationships with ethnic-minority communities, thus gaining new insights and advancing knowledge within the field of ethnic minority health research. These insights can guide future investigations of Chinese and other immigrant communities as research on immigration policy and health expands.

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