Healthcare providers’ images of refugees and their use of health services: an exploratory study

Nellie Van den Bos*, Galia Sabar, Shiri Tenenboim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: In 2017, the WHO presented a framework of priorities and guiding principles to promote the health of refugees and migrants (WHO, 2017). The purpose of this paper is to analyze a crucial but understudied aspect for the implementation of this framework, namely, healthcare providers’ images of refugees and their use of health services. Design/methodology/approach: A preliminary study first addresses images of refugees and their use of health services derived from the literature. This is followed by an empirical case study of antenatal and delivery service to Eritrean refugee women in Israel. The case study explores providers’ (n=8) images of Eritrean women and their use of services as well as Eritrean women’s (n=10) reflections on their own use of these services, examining the degree to which providers’ images correspond with Eritrean women’s realities. Findings: The preliminary study shows how the literature largely tends to picture refugees as medicalized and disempowered. The case study illustrates that providers of Israeli antenatal and delivery services embrace similar images, although they are more nuanced. The reflections of Eritrean women show that providers’ images partially reflect their realities. However, Eritrean women attribute these images to external constraints, whereas providers attribute these images to innate characteristics of Eritrean women. Together, these findings suggest that implementation of the recently introduced WHO framework is at stake. Originality/value: This study raises awareness of a crucial but understudied aspect regarding implementation of a recently introduced universal framework for promoting the health of refugees and migrants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-213
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • Antenatal and delivery care
  • Disempowerment
  • Medicalization
  • Providers
  • Refugees

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