Published July 9, 2023 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

Cues to taking health action among people with asylum-seeking background— Findings from Norway and Finland

  • 1. Åbo Akademi University
  • 2. Oslo Metropolitan University


Background— Studies on people with asylum-seeking backgrounds reveal different needs for and challenges with utilisation of health-related information and healthcare services in host countries. In order to explore such needs and challenges, we need to identify influential factors that affect the motivation of people with asylum-seeking background to seek health-related information and healthcare services. Awareness of a health problem and cues to action may vary from one person to another. Cues to action may, moreover, it can be internal (such as symptoms or changes in body shape) or external (such as messages). Studying cues to action, particularly among minorities with different ethnic backgrounds is therefore important. Purpose: This study investigates internal and external cues to take health actions among people with asylum-seeking background living in the two Nordic countries Finland and Norway.

Design/methodology/approach: Two sets of semi-structured interviews were conducted from May to August 2022 with a total of 16 participants with asylum-seeking background in Finland (N = 7) and Norway (N = 9). The interview guide was developed based on the Health Belief Model (HBM) to identify internal and external factors acting as motivators for taking health actions in the studied group.

Results- The findings indicate that common cues to health actions among the participants were related to changes in health, access to free medical check-ups, health educational TV or radio programmes, and social media. The participants mentioned different internal and external motivations for taking health action, which correspond to their cultural differences or beliefs. These were advice from family members and friends, advice from a healthcare professional from their country of origin and receiving information about physical or mental health risk factors at church, mosque, or their community meeting. Finally, receiving information about physical or mental health risk factors from universities, employers, local health authorities, or medical professionals, and advice from a local healthcare professional were reported more among participants from the Norwegian sample group (three out of nine) compared with the Finnish sample group (one out of seven).

Findings-The findings reveal that while different officials and stakeholders provide health-related information in terms of emails, letters (such as invitation letters for mammography check-ups), and guidelines to non-native minorities; only a small part of this information will reach and be used by the target population.

Practical implications: This study has twofold practical implications, (a) to provide practical insights to healthcare providers, immigration authorities, and policymakers on factors influencing taking health action among non-native minorities, and (b) to highlight the role of cultural factors and beliefs in the utilisation of different health-related information and healthcare services among minorities in Nordic countries. The findings showed factors such as health-information being simple, related to the immediate health needs of the audience, as well as easy to access are the most important factors that lead to more utilisation of health-related information and healthcare services among the studied population.

Originality/value: This is one of the first studies on cues to health actions among residents with asylum-seeking background living in two Nordic countries and provides reflections on the role of personal social networks and official cues in providing awareness of health problems.


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