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Culture and Health: Immigrant Women’s Perceptions of Health Care in Canada
Alla Kushniryk, Mount Saint Vincent University
Deanna Gamble, Mount Saint Vincent University
Culture influences the way people take care of their heath and make health related decisions. As the immigrant population in Canada is constantly increasing, it is very important for health campaigns to efficiently target this group, and especially immigrant women, because they are typically responsible for the health of their children. Their decisions not only affect their own health, but also that of their families.
This study describes immigrant women’s perceptions of health care in Canada. Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with African, Asian, Middle-Eastern and East-European women. The participants of this study were identified through community and informal contacts from organizations such as Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS) in Halifax, NS. Analysis of these interviews reveals several challenges that these immigrant women encounter in their interactions with the Canadian health care system: 1) understanding the role of preventative health care, 2) understanding the role of informed health decision-making, (3) maintaining good health through traditional practices; and 4) the lack of culturally-appropriate health information.
These challenges hold important implications for how health promotion strategies should be structured and offered. In particular, attention must be paid to the development of culturally-relevant materials and messages that will help immigrant women understand the Canadian health care system.
This study offers public relations practitioners and policy makers useful suggestions for development of health campaigns that will be equally effective for immigrant women.
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