Health and New Zealand health services: a Latin American perspective

Perez, Alvaro R
Nayar, Shoba
Conn, Cath
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Master of Public Health
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Auckland University of Technology

Introduction: The Latin American population in Auckland is small in numbers, but it has rapidly increased over the last decade. Quantitative studies regarding health needs reveal that this group of immigrants shows high rates of diabetes, asthma, and teenage pregnancy. This group is more educated than other similar immigrant groups, yet their income is reduced, and health indicators are closer to those of poor populations. There is no current qualitative information on why these phenomena could occur.

Research question: This thesis intends to answer the question, how do Spanish speaking Latin Americans, residing in the Auckland region, view health and health systems of their countries of origin and New Zealand.

Methodology: Eight participants (four men and four women) where interviewed, following narrative inquiry procedures. Participants had to be Latin American; aged 20 years or older; speak Spanish as a native language; have migrated to New Zealand between 2004 and 2010, and be resident within the Auckland region. Participants had to define health in their own words and tell personal stories involving health care usage in their country of origin and in New Zealand. A thematic analysis was performed on recurrent or relevant topics mentioned by participants.

Findings: Analysis of the participants’ stories revealed that health was defined and viewed according to what participants experienced in their lives; it was also highly overlapped with trust issues. There were important differences among participants with low income (public service users) and those with high income (private service users), regardless of their country of origin.

Conclusion: This is the first qualitative study that explores Latin American individual views about health care in New Zealand, showing that they are deeply connected with participants’ experiences, and their countries of origin are put into contrast against New Zealand as a reference. Future health care policies should take this into consideration when trying to reach small immigrant group populations, especially when they are vulnerable.

Health care , New Zealand , Latin American , Immigration
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