Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Higher medical mistrust rates amongst African migrants

African migrants have lower levels of trust in the health care system than the general population, according to new research from A/Prof Andre Renzaho from the DEPM's Global Health & Society Unit and other authors.

Researchers interviewed 425 participants from Melbourne, Shepparton, and Adelaide and found that refugee and family reunion migrants were the least likely to trust medical professionals, along with Muslims, as compared to Christians and those coming from rural areas.
The authors pointed out that mistrust in government services could have been appropriate in some African migrants’ host countries, such as Somalia and the Sudan, but these attitudes could be difficult to change after relocating to Australia.  
Miscommunication and misunderstanding about medical processes can also exacerbate mistrust. Similarly, discrimination is a significant barrier to fully engaging migrants and refugees with health care systems.

The authors recommend implementing programs to enhance trust of medical systems in African migrant communities, and to reduce discrimination amongst the general population and health care professionals.  

Previous research has shown that African migrants tend to underutilise the health system, despite coming from countries with generally less accessible health care than Australia.  A/Prof Renzaho’s study suggests that mistrust could be a contributing factor to this pattern. 

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