Abstract

Objective: Despite the recognition that refugees should have equitable access to healthcare services, this presents considerable challenges, particularly in rural and regional areas. Because general practitioners (GPs) are critical to resettlement for refugees and play a crucial role in understanding their specific health and social issues, it is important to know more about the needs of GPs.

Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 14 GPs and GP registrars who trained with a New South Wales regional training provider with the aim of assessing the needs and attitudes of GPs in treating refugees and the perceived effect that refugees have on their practice.

Results: The interviews, while acknowledging well-recognised issues such as language and culture, also highlighted particular issues for rural and regional areas, such as employment and community support. International medical graduates identified with resettlement problems faced by refugees and are a potential resource for these patients. A need for greater information for GPs regarding services available to help manage refugees in rural and regional areas and greater access to those services was demonstrated.

Conclusions: Issues such as time, costs, language and culture were recognised as challenges in providing services for refugees. GPs highlighted particular issues for rural and regional areas in addressing refugee health, such as finding jobs, problems with isolation and the effect of lack of anonymity in such communities. These social factors have implications for the health of the refugees, especially psychological health, which is also challenged by poor resources.

What is known about the topic? Providing refugees equitable access to healthcare services presents considerable challenges, particularly in rural and regional areas. Time, language and culture are commonly reported barriers in providing services for this population group.

What does this paper add? There are particular issues for rural and regional areas in addressing refugee health, including finding jobs, problems with isolation and the effect of lack of anonymity in rural communities. These social factors have implications for the health of refugees, especially psychological health, which is also challenged by a paucity of services. The findings of this study suggest that international medical graduate doctors identified with resettlement problems faced by refugees and may be an important resource for these patients. This study highlights the awareness, empathy and positive attitudes of GPs in regional and rural areas in their approach to treating patients with a refugee background.

What are the implications for practitioners? International medical graduates often identify with resettlement problems faced by refugees and are an important resource for these patients. A need for greater information for GPs regarding services available to help manage refugees in rural and regional areas and greater access to those services was demonstrated.

Keywords

cultural competency, international medical graduates

Link to Publisher Version (URL)

https://doi.org/10.1071/AH17093

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