Design: Randomised controlled trial.
Setting: Welfare services in six Dutch cities.
Participants: 126 people born in Turkey and aged 45 years and over, of whom 92 completed the trial.
Intervention: Eight, two hour sessions consisting of health education and exercises. Topics in health education focused on means to maintain a good health. Education was adapted to the culture and knowledge of older Turks and offered by a Turkish peer educator, in Turkish.
Main outcome measures: Physical and mental wellbeing, and mental health based on the SF-12/36; knowledge on health and disease; physical activity.
Results: Participants were highly disadvantaged; 52% had not completed primary school and 49% had considerable problems in speaking Dutch. Participants in the intervention group showed an improvement in mental health (effect size: 0.38 SD (95% confidence intervals 0.03 to 0.73), p=0.03); the oldest subgroup also in mental wellbeing (effect size 0.75 SD (0.22 to 1.28), p=0.01). No improvements were seen in physical wellbeing and activity, nor in knowledge.
Conclusions: Health education and physical exercise improve the mental state of deprived immigrants. Painstaking cultural adaptations to contents and method of delivery are essential to reach this effect.