- Ethnic health care advisors: A good strategy to improve the access to health care and social welfare services for ethnic minorities?
- Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
- Volume | Issue number
- 34 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Empirical studies indicate that ethnic minorities have limited access to health care and welfare services compared with the host population. To improve this access, ethnic health care (HC) advisors were introduced in four districts in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. HC advisors work for all health care and welfare services and their main task is to provide information on health care and welfare to individuals and groups and refer individuals to services. Action research was carried out over a period of 2 years to find out whether and how this function can contribute to improve access to services for ethnic minorities. Information was gathered by semi-structured interviews, analysing registration forms and reports, and attending meetings. The function’s implementation and characteristics differed per district. The ethnicity of the health care advisors corresponded to the main ethnic groups in the district: Moroccan and Turkish (three districts) and sub-Sahara African and Surinamese (one district). HC advisors reached many ethnic inhabitants (n = 2,224) through individual contacts. Half of them were referred to health care and welfare services. In total, 576 group classes were given. These were mostly attended by Moroccan and Turkish females. Outreach activities and office hours at popular locations appeared to be important characteristics for actually reaching ethnic minorities. Furthermore, direct contact with a well-organized back office seems to be important. HC advisors were able to reach many ethnic minorities, provide information about the health care and welfare system, and refer them to services. Besides adapting the function to the local situation, some general aspects for success can be indicated: the ethnic background of the HC advisor should correspond to the main ethnic minority groups in the district, HC advisors need to conduct outreach work, there must be a well-organized back office to refer clients to, and there needs to be enough commitment among professionals of local health and welfare services.
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