RETORNO: Interventions on Social Determinants of Health – A comparative study of returned migrants from the UK and Spain post Brexit referendum

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A small Spain flag, linked to a Spanish language webpage

This webpage is also available in Spanish


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RETORNO study will develop an evidence-based, context-sensitive theory of how intra-EU returned migrants’ health could be improved using the case study of return migration between the UK and Spain post-Brexit referendum.

EU return migration health data is an excellent example of complexity: it is scarce and inevitably heterogeneous, and varies by country, population and setting. The success of interventions on social determinants of health for returned migrants is highly context-dependent, not only in individual countries, but also on the comparison of primary versus secondary care and for people with acute or severe conditions, long-term, compared to healthy migrants.


The main objectives of the RETORNO study are:

  • To explore how Brexit affects health and social care services provision for returned migrants and the implications for different stakeholders.
  • To classify interventions for Social Determinants of Health to understand for whom, under what circumstances, in what respects and why they may impact returned migrants’ health inequalities.
  • To identify contextual factors and main mechanisms triggered by interventions and how these impact health outcomes, focusing on gender inequalities.
  • To support the design of interventions by providing a unified theory constructed with stakeholders on how public policies on migrant welfare and health may impact citizens returning home after temporary residence in other EU member states.


A realist synthesis will be conducted, with a collaborative approach where knowledge users are consulted in the process and outcome of the review. We will carry out stakeholder workshops with participants from UK and Spain. These workshops will be nested along the study in order to map contextual differences, and helping to refine initial knowledge and consolidate study scope and objectives, to validate final findings, and to develop joint strategies for dissemination, including co-design a Handbook on Return Migration and Health.


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Meet the team

Dr Pilar Serrano Gallardo, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Sociology & Social Policy (Principal Investigator)

Dr Ana Manzano, Associate Professor in Public Policy, School of Sociology & Social Policy (Supervisor)

Prof Adrian Favell, Chair in Sociology and Social Theory & Director, Bauman Institute, Deputy Director, Leeds Social Sciences Institute (Mentor)

Dr Roxana Barbulescu, Associate Professor in the School of Sociology and Social Policy (Mentor)


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On November 23, 2021 – from the Post Brexit working group, created to coordinate joint initiatives in support of the Spanish community in the United Kingdom, we have launched the Joint Manifesto on the Loss of Rights after Brexit

Interview to Pilar Serrano – Spanish Nursing Council (video)

Interview to Pilar Serrano – CursosFnn (video)

Interview to Pilar Serrano – newspaper DICEN

Brief news – Universidad Autónoma de Madrid


Prospero Registration


Wednesday 26 January 2022, 13.30 – 14.20 (UK time)
Conceptual and methodological considerations about return migration in the European context – Research Culture Seminar series in SSP.
Find out more and register for the seminar

March 2022, Date TBC: Return migration, Brexit and Covid-19. A Realist Synthesis – Spotlight Realism Leeds Seminars


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Related websites

Marie Curie Actions

Realism Leeds

The Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies (CERS)

Autonomous University of Madrid – Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine

Other relevant resources

Coalición de Españoles en el Reino Unido

Consejo de Residentes Españoles en el Centro UK

Consejo de Residentes Españoles en el Norte UK

IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe)

Marea Granate

Oficina Precaria Londres

Support in Spain



We welcome contributions, both within academia and with stakeholders, including citizens. It is our interest to open communication channels, not only to inform about the progress of our study, but also to receive opinions from all interested persons.

For more details on the RETORNO project, contact:

Dr. Pilar Serrano-Gallardo (PI)

Project website