Comprehensive health literacy is associated with experiences of the health examination for asylum seekers - A Swedish cross-sectional study.
2015 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Introduction: Little is known about refugees’ health literacy (HL) and their experiences of the health examination for asylum seekers (HEA). Communication problems and difficulties with HL are common in clinical care targeted to migrants. Limited language skills, different cultural views of health, and health care knowledge about health and health literacy may explain some of the communication problems. From a public health perspective, communication problems are serious as they limit access to health care and information. One vulnerable group of migrants in terms of health is refugees, i.e. persons who have fled from and/or cannot return to their country for a well-founded fear of persecution, including war or civil conflict. Many refugees come into contact with health information when they participate in an HEA, provided in most countries that accept refugees. The overall purpose of HEA is to identify poor health in order to secure the well-being of seekers of asylum and to guarantee the safety of the population in the host country. Refugees´ experiences of communication during the HEA and about its usefulness are thus far not known. However, important information and good communication and interpersonal relations between health care receivers and providers are viewed as being important to the quality of health care. In the context of HEA, limited HL may result in failure to identify health problems and in participants not getting treatments and information their medical situation calls for. The purposes of the study were to investigate refugees’ experiences of communication during their health examination for asylum seekers and the usefulness of that examination, and to investigate whether health literacy is associated with those experiences.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed in 2013, among 455 adult refugees speaking Arabic, Dari, Somali or English. Health literacy was measured using the Swedish Functional HL Scale (S-FHL) and the short European HL Questionnaire (HLS-EU-Q16). Experiences of communication and the usefulness of HEA were measured in several questions. Uni- and multivariate statistical methods were used to investigate group differences.
Results: A considerable proportion of refugees in Sweden had bad experiences of the communication and the usefulness of HEA. Refugees with inadequate comprehensive HL experienced more communication problems and the examination as less useful, compared to those with non-inadequate comprehensive HL. No differences in those experiences could be seen between refugees with different levels of functional HL.
Conclusion: Refugees’ own experiences indicate that a low level of comprehensive HL could act as a barrier to fulfilling the purposes of HEA. Comprehensive HL seems to be of greater importance in that context than functional HL. Health literacy must be highlighted and acted upon in clinical praxis to increase the quality of HEA.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Health literacy, refugees, health examination, health promotion, Sweden, S-FHL, HLS-EU-Q16
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject Social Medicine
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-285188OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-285188DiVA: diva2:921060
The 3rd European Health Literacy Conference