Survey of family physicians' perspectives on management of immigrant patients: attitudes, barriers, strategies, and training needs

Patient Educ Couns. 2012 Feb;86(2):205-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.05.015. Epub 2011 Jun 1.


Objective: Immigrants in Canada form a significant portion of the population and have unique and complex health needs. This study was undertaken to evaluate family physicians' perspectives on the care of this population.

Methods: Questionnaires were distributed to family physicians in Montreal (n=598). The main outcomes of interest were attitudes of family physicians to care of immigrants including barriers perceived, resources and strategies used to accommodate immigrant patients, as well as physicians' training in immigrant care.

Results: Family physicians find communication difficulties to be the key barrier and would like to see the access to interpreters improved. Very few physicians make use of professional interpreters. Only a minority of physicians have received specific cross-cultural competence training but those who have seem to provide better quality of care.

Conclusions: Knowledge of physician perspectives is an essential element on which to base interventions to improve the quality of care to this population.

Practice implications: Physicians should be reminded of the importance of using professional interpretation services in multi-lingual encounters. Cross-cultural training should be further advanced in Canadian medical curricula.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Canada
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Cultural Competency / education
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multilingualism
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family / education
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires