Experiences with the medical and health systems for Somali refugees living in Hamilton

Bernard Guerin, Abdirizak Abdi, Pauline Guerin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Little is known about the health practices of refugee groups in New Zealand so the present research aimed to provide an overview of the reported health status and the barriers to health service utilisation of Somali refugees in Hamilton. A bilingual Somali interviewed 29 females and 25 males ranging in age from 18 to 63 years. The Somali community reported themselves as being in good health with not much concern. Participants reported that they rely on General Practitioners (GPs) to confide in about their health, to obtain health information, to deal with "mental health" problems, as well as to act as family doctors. GPs were generally judged positively and were seen as caring and friendly with expertise. While overall positive towards medical services, the Somali refugees had many problems accessing the services required, the biggest problem being language, and to a lesser extent transportation and medical costs. Language is an important consideration for health psychology interventions, since compromised language impacts on the ability to access medical services, puts demands on translator services, and wastes public health messages. Interventions to improve the women's English are especially important since the women speak less well but take both themselves and their children to the medical services. The heavy reliance on GPs could put a strain on public health resources and training specialised public nurses or Somali nurses could help this as well as employment for Somali.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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