Gender-Specific Aspects of Health Literacy: Perceptions of Interactions with Migrants among Health Care Providers in Germany

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Mar 25;17(7):2189. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17072189.


Health literacy can be described as a complex process shaped by individual resources and preferences and by the nature and quality of health-related information people encounter. The main objective of this study was to explore the views of health care professionals on how gender as a personal determinant of health literacy affected their interactions with migrant patients. The interrelated challenges, needs and applied solutions were analyzed from a health literacy perspective. Five focus group discussions with health care professionals working with migrants (n = 31) were conducted in Cologne, Germany, audio recorded, transcribed and analyzed by qualitative content analysis. Gender-specific aspects, such as the gender of health care providers as a factor, were portrayed above all in relation to patients from Turkey and Arab countries regarding access to and understanding of health-related information. These statements exclusively represent the possibly biased or assumptions-based perspectives of health care professionals on their migrant patients and were made against the background of a systemic lack of time and the challenge of overcoming language barriers. Especially in this context, reducing time pressure and improving communication in the treatment setting may be to the benefit of all actors within healthcare.

Keywords: gender; health care professionals; health literacy; migration; qualitative content analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Germany
  • Health Literacy* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Personnel* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sex Factors
  • Transients and Migrants*
  • Turkey