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Culturally-informed health metaphors on health service delivery

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Le, Q and Chiu, C (2009) Culturally-informed health metaphors on health service delivery. International Journal of Social Health Information Management, 2 (2). pp. 48-59. ISSN 1942-9664

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Abstract

Introduction Australia is a land of cultural diversity accommodating people of different cultural backgrounds, which provides good materials for research on health service delivery to migrants. Migrants encounter many problems in the host country which has different perceptions of health and expectations of health-related behaviours. Metaphors used by the migrants are evidence of their views and attitudes towards health issues in Australia. Purpose This paper interprets the cultural meanings of the metaphors migrants use to describe health services in Australia. The purpose of this research is to provide Australian health professionals with an insight into the Asian concept of health and its implications. Findings of this study are expected to help enhance health service delivery to migrants through promoting a better understanding of Asian migrants’ cultures and backgrounds. Methods The study is a qualitative study using a snowball sampling method. Nine Asian migrants from Vietnam, Japan, China and Hong Kong were invited to share their perceptions of health professionals and health care system in this intercultural society. The study deals with the metaphors used by the participants in making sense of the Australian health care system and explores the meanings beyond these metaphors. Results The metaphors identified provide insights into the health care perceptions, presuppositions, and behaviours of Asian migrants in Australia, a new land they now call home. Two broad themes are identified: health professionals in the migrants’ eyes and negotiating the way through the health care system. The study of these metaphors is useful to enhance health care workers’ intercultural understanding and to help establish mutual respect between health professionals and patients. Conclusion Asian migrants have a lot of respect for Australian health care professionals and system. The issue they face when accessing health care services in Australia are mostly related to culture and language. In addition, the lack of knowledge of how the Australian health care system operates also creates distress among these migrants. An attempt by Australian health professionals to demonstrate their recognition of the cultures and beliefs of the migrants and the provision of information regarding how to navigate the Australian health care system by health authorities will help mitigate potential miscommunications and conflicts between health care providers and recipients.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Asian migrants, communication, health issues, intercultural, qualitative research
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Social Health Information Management
Page Range: pp. 48-59
ISSN: 1942-9664
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2009 00:14
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:04
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/9107
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