Importance of Place and Race in Health Geographies: A Qualitative Study of Experiences in Healthcare Service Accessibility and Health Seeking Behavior among Somalis in Central Minnesota

Authors: Sudarshana Bordoloi*, Minnesota State University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Ethnicity and Race, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: Place, Race, Accessibility, Vulnerable Population, Healthcare Services
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Tyler, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Health geographers have often discussed best approaches and issues in provision of healthcare services to ‘vulnerable’ population -- population groups whose demographic, geographic, or economic characteristics impede or prevent their access to healthcare services. Immigrant population in the US, specifically refugees are considered ‘vulnerable’ population groups—groups at increased risk of poor physical, psychological, and social health outcomes and inadequate health care opportunities. This vulnerability is amplified through affects of ‘place’ and race relations embedded in place that lead to specific perceptions of immigrants in healthcare practices and patient provider interactions. Significant interactive effects of race/ethnicity and immigration status—by exacerbating marginalization and stigma in immigrant patients—can be witnessed in the deleterious effects on physical and mental health status of such population groups, and barriers in their accessibility to and lower utilization rates of available health services. Somalis have a significant presence in central Minnesota, where most Somali workers find work in the local food processing and meat packing industries. A recent report from the Minnesota Dept. of Health concluded that Somali refugees in Minnesota are among the least served by Minnesota’s health and social service systems. This study attempts to examine the impact of place and race on health care accessibility, experiences, and utilization, as well as the general health seeking behavior among Somalis in central Minnesota. A community-based participatory research design informs the data collection methods for this study. Both primary and secondary data has been collected through in-depth interviews, focus groups, household surveys, and archival research.

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