Scarred survivors: Gate keepers and gate openers to healthcare for migrants in vulnerable circumstances

Emily Clark (Lead Author), Nicholas Steel, Tara Berger Gillam, Monica Sharman, Anne Webb, Ana-Maria Bucataru, Sarah Hanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: The main barriers to ‘vulnerable migrants’ receiving good quality primary care are language and administration barriers. Little is known about the experiences of healthcare discrimination faced by migrants from different cultural groups.

The aim was to explore vulnerable migrants’ perspectives on primary healthcare in a UK city.

Methods: Three focus groups and two semi structured interviews were aided by interpreters. These were analysed against a pre-developed framework based on national standards of care for vulnerable migrants. Recruitment was facilitated via a community organization.

Results: In total, 13 participants took part, six women and seven men. There were five Arabic speakers, four Farsi speakers and four English speakers. Themes included access to primary care, mental health, use of interpreters, post-migration stressors and cultural competency.

Conclusions: Vulnerable migrants perceived high levels of discrimination and reported the value of a respectful attitude from health professionals. Appointment booking systems and re-ordering medication are key areas where language barriers cause the most disruption to patient care. Medication-only treatment plans have limitations for mental distress for this population. Community based therapies which manages post-migration stressors are likely to enhance recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-255
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • access
  • inequalities
  • mental health
  • migrants
  • primary care
  • qualitative

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