Soc Sci Med. 1995 Jun; 40(12): 1631-42.
Vietnamese refugees in Victoria, B.C.: an overview of immigrant and refugee health care in a medium-sized Canadian urban centre.
Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria, B.C., Canada.
This paper examines the manner in which Vietnamese refugees access the healthcare system in Victoria, British Columbia. A major theme of this study was the identification of barriers to health care access and provision as perceived by refugees and health care providers, as well as areas of overlap between the two sets of perceptions. The study was based on interview protocols developed with key informants followed by structured samples of 20 Vietnamese and 20 health care workers. The major issue identified by both groups was problematic interpretation of patient symptoms and health care provider recommendations. Lack of health care worker understanding of traditional remedies for common ailments was also identified as a barrier to health care access and utilization. The special problems of unemployment, depression, surviving torture and getting assistance are all made more difficult for refugees living in a smaller urban centre which lacks sufficiently large ethnic populations to assist in service provision. A number of suggestions are made which might ameliorate the difficulties of refugees living in smaller communities. These include municipally based client advocates and special translation training for existing hospital staff.