Midwives' views on factors that contribute to health care inequalities among immigrants in Sweden: a qualitative study

Int J Equity Health. 2012 Aug 18;11:47. doi: 10.1186/1475-9276-11-47.


Introduction: Ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities in the Swedish health care system have increased. Most indicators suggest that immigrants have significantly poorer health than native Swedes. The purpose of this study was to explore the views of midwives on the factors that contribute to health care inequality among immigrants.

Methods: Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with ten midwives. These were transcribed and related categories identified through content analysis.

Results: The interview data were divided into three main categories and seven subcategories. The category "Communication" was divided into subcategories "The meeting", "Cultural diversity and language barriers" and "Trust and confidence". The category "Potential barriers to the use of health care services" contained two subcategories, "Seeking health care" and "Receiving equal treatment". Finally, the category "Transcultural health care" had subcategories "Education on transcultural health care" and "The concept".

Conclusions: This study suggests that midwives believe that health care inequality among immigrants can be the result of miscommunication which may arise due to a shortage of meeting time, language barriers, different systems of cultural beliefs and practices and limited patient-caregiver trust. Midwives emphasized that education level, country of origin and length of stay in Sweden play a role when an immigrant seeks health care. Immigrants face more difficulties when seeking health care and in receiving adequate levels of care. However, different views among the midwives were also observed. Some midwives were sensitive to individual and intra-group differences, while some others viewed immigrants as a group of "others". Midwives' beliefs about subgroup-specific health services vs. integrating immigrants' health care into mainstream health care services should be investigated further. Patients' perspective should also be considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication
  • Cultural Competency
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Healthcare Disparities* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwifery*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Trust