Caring for Somali women: implications for clinician-patient communication

Patient Educ Couns. 2007 Jun;66(3):337-45. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2007.01.008. Epub 2007 Mar 6.


Objective: We sought to identify characteristics associated with favorable treatment in receipt of preventive healthcare services, from the perspective of resettled African refugee women.

Methods: Individual, in-depth interviews with 34 Somali women in Rochester, NY, USA. Questions explored positive and negative experiences with primary health care services, beliefs about respectful versus disrespectful treatment, experiences of racism, prejudice or bias, and ideas about removing access barriers and improving health care services. Analysis was guided by grounded theory.

Results: Qualities associated with a favorable healthcare experience included effective verbal and nonverbal communication, feeling valued and understood, availability of female interpreters and clinicians and sensitivity to privacy for gynecologic concerns. Participants stated that adequate transportation, access to healthcare services and investment in community-based programs to improve health literacy about women's preventive health services were prerequisite to any respectful health care system.

Conclusion: Effective communication, access to healthcare services with female interpreters and clinicians, and community programs to promote health literacy are themes associated with respectful and effective healthcare experiences among Somali women.

Practice implications: Adequate interpreter services are essential. Patient-provider gender concordance is important to many Somali women, especially for gynecological concerns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Communication*
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Educational Status
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration*
  • New York
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Preventive Health Services
  • Refugees / education
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Somalia / ethnology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women / education
  • Women / psychology*