Culture and Health: Immigrant Women’s Perceptions of Health Care in Canada

Alla Kushniryk, Mount Saint Vincent University
Deanna Gamble, Mount Saint Vincent University

Culture influences the way people take care of their heath and make health related decisions. As the immigrant population in Canada is constantly increasing, it is very important for health campaigns to efficiently target this group, and especially immigrant women, because they are typically responsible for the health of their children. Their decisions not only affect their own health, but also that of their families.
This study describes immigrant women’s perceptions of health care in Canada. Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with African, Asian, Middle-Eastern and East-European women. The participants of this study were identified through community and informal contacts from organizations such as Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS) in Halifax, NS. Analysis of these interviews reveals several challenges that these immigrant women encounter in their interactions with the Canadian health care system: 1) understanding the role of preventative health care, 2) understanding the role of informed health decision-making, (3) maintaining good health through traditional practices; and 4) the lack of culturally-appropriate health information.
These challenges hold important implications for how health promotion strategies should be structured and offered. In particular, attention must be paid to the development of culturally-relevant materials and messages that will help immigrant women understand the Canadian health care system.
This study offers public relations practitioners and policy makers useful suggestions for development of health campaigns that will be equally effective for immigrant women.

For PDF of related poster click here.

Deanna Gamble, Mount Saint Vincent University
Deanna Gamble is from Quispamsis, New Brunswick and is currently completing her Master of Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University. Deanna graduated from St. Thomas University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in communications and a minor in journalism. Deanna currently works full time with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saint John as a Public Relations Officer. She has worked with St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation as a Special Events Assistant Coordinator for the Summer months for four years. Deanna’s interests include art, travelling, dance and social causes. Deanna has a passion for research with a special interest in community development.