9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS04 Europe and Immigration

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Health and Education Building I, 1E9

Attitudes and representations of health and illness in immigrants

The greater diversity of population resulting from migratory flows pose new challenges to the host countries, namely in national health care systems. The immigrant´s access to appropriate health services contributes to an improvement in the level of health of these communities, to a better quality of life and to their integration in the host country.
Migrants bring with them cultural attitudes and representations to health care appropriate in their own experience, and not necessarily to the host country. The attitudes and representations of immigrants not only influence the perceived need to use to health services but also how to use them. In this sense, identifying attitudes about illness, health and health services is a first step toward improving health care utilization among immigrants. In Portugal limited data are available about these issues.
This study aimed to identify the attitudes and representations in relation to health, illness and health services utilization. This was observational, cross and analytical study.
A community-based survey was conducted to obtain a sample of 1.152 immigrant communities of African origin, Brazilian and countries of eastern. Data were collected through questionnaires developed specifically for this study, administered by trained interviewers.
Our results suggest that attitudes and representations about health, illness, access and utilization health services differ between migrants groups: African, Brazilian and Eastern Europe. These results are consistent with literature and indicate that immigrant?s communities have less preventive care opportunities. Migrants are often language difficulties and are unfamiliar with practices of health care regulation in the host country. Results suggest that migrant´s communities are less likely to receive even routine medical procedures, experience a lower quality of health services, are less satisfaction with health services.
The conclusions can support the development of policies and strategies that can promote access and appropriate health services, reduce health inequalities and have a positive impact in immigrants health.