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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Experiences of ethnic minorities with chronic illness accessing primary health care Kensall, Sherri Lynn


Living with a chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease and accessing health care over many years can be a challenge for anyone. This experience is further impacted by experiences associated with being an ethnic minority where challenges in communicating with health care providers or encountering different views on health care can make navigating the system more difficult. Within the current health care system in British Columbia, the Primary Health Care (PHC) Charter articulates a clear role for PHC as the setting in which chronic illness care is organized and delivered. Unfortunately, interactions in PHC can be both a source of support and of stress for individuals. In order to provide care which supports individuals to self manage their health, it is important that PHC providers understand common experiences and priorities for diverse populations when seeking care in the ongoing management of their condition. Through secondary analysis, this study analyzes data from a recent research project exploring the experiences of ethnic minorities in PHC by Dr Wong. Data from twelve focus groups with a subset of participants with chronic illness was examined to further advance aspects of chronic illness management within the context of the current health care environment in British Columbia (BC). This data was viewed within a critical cultural perspective to inform both current and future practice in order to promote care which is culturally safe and at the same time supports individuals in adopting healthier lifestyles and maximizing their confidence in managing their health. Results from this study highlight the challenges encountered by anyone managing a chronic illness but also how ethnic minorities may face an increased burden of illness. This study also explores how approaches in the charter, specifically the expanded chronic care model, need to be viewed critically in terms of the potential to promote a sense of individual responsibility for care or further racialization through subcategorizing individuals based on ethnicity. This study also highlights benefits in the approaches to CDM especially in the investments in resources in multiple languages and potential for building stronger linkages to community programs.

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