Practitioner and Client Explanations for Disparities in Health Care Use Between Migrant and Non-migrant Groups in Sweden: A Qualitative Study

Sharareh Akhavan*, Saffron Karlsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate variations in explanations given for disparities in health care use between migrant and non-migrant groups, by clients and care providers in Sweden. Qualitative evidence collected during in-depth interviews with five 'migrant' health service clients and five physicians. The interview data generated three categories which were perceived by respondents to produce ethnic differences in health service use: "Communication issues", "Cultural differences in approaches to medical consultations" and "Effects of perceptions of inequalities in care quality and discrimination". Explanations for disparities in health care use in Sweden can be categorized into those reflecting social/structural conditions and the presence/absence of power and those using cultural/behavioural explanations. The negative perceptions of 'migrant' clients held by some Swedish physicians place the onus for addressing their poor health with the clients themselves and risks perpetuating their health disadvantage. The power disparity between doctors and 'migrant' patients encourages a sense of powerlessness and mistreatment among patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-197
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of immigrant and minority health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Foreign-born
  • Culture
  • Ethnic disparities
  • Health care
  • Inequality
  • RACE

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