Caring for Somali women: Implications for clinician-patient communication

  • Carroll J
  • Epstein R
  • Fiscella K
 et al. 
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Objective: We sought to identify characteristics associated with favorable treatment in receipt of preventive healthcare services, from the perspective of resettled African refugee women. Methods: Individual, in-depth interviews with 34 Somali women in Rochester, NY, USA. Questions explored positive and negative experiences with primary health care services, beliefs about respectful versus disrespectful treatment, experiences of racism, prejudice or bias, and ideas about removing access barriers and improving health care services. Analysis was guided by grounded theory. Results: Qualities associated with a favorable healthcare experience included effective verbal and nonverbal communication, feeling valued and understood, availability of female interpreters and clinicians and sensitivity to privacy for gynecologic concerns. Participants stated that adequate transportation, access to healthcare services and investment in community-based programs to improve health literacy about women's preventive health services were prerequisite to any respectful health care system. Conclusion: Effective communication, access to healthcare services with female interpreters and clinicians, and community programs to promote health literacy are themes associated with respectful and effective healthcare experiences among Somali women. Practice implications: Adequate interpreter services are essential. Patient-provider gender concordance is important to many Somali women, especially for gynecological concerns. © 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Preventive healthcare services
  • Refugee
  • Women's health care

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  • Jennifer Carroll

  • Ronald Epstein

  • Kevin Fiscella

  • Teresa Gipson

  • Ellen Volpe

  • Pascal Jean-Pierre

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