Navigating the health-care system in community: Perspectives from Asian immigrant parents of children with special health-care needs

J Child Health Care. 2018 Jun;22(2):251-268. doi: 10.1177/1367493517753084. Epub 2018 Jan 28.


Children with special health-care needs (CSHCNs) face notable barriers to health-care access and to receiving quality and family-centered care, despite higher health-care utilization rates. Within the population of CSHCNs, there are significant inequities in health-care quality impacting immigrants who have migrated to the United States. However, little is known about the experiences and needs of Asian immigrant families who have CSHCNs. This study aimed to explore how Asian immigrant parents of CSHCNs view their child's health-care access, quality, and utilization. We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 22 Vietnamese- and Cantonese-speaking parents of CSHCNs. Participants were recruited through community partners. Interviews were transcribed, translated, and coded using content analysis. Participants were generally satisfied with their children's care and had strong relationships with their primary care doctors who were often culturally 'matched'. However, participants experienced several important and culturally specific barriers, including gaps in their understanding of the health-care system, language barriers, and a sense of alienation. Parents frequently turned to informal and community supports for assistance in navigating the US health-care system. Further research to understand the drivers of health disparities and policy level solutions is warranted.

Keywords: Asian immigrants; children with special health-care needs; disparities; immigrant health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States