Join us on Facebook
Add Comment

Part 1

The Bio-psychosocial impact of forced migration: a participatory approach amongst refugees and asylum seekers in Malta

The Bio-psychosocial impact of forced migration: a participatory approach amongst refugees and asylum seekers in Malta
Marika Podda Connor, MSc, BSc (Hons), RN,
School of Health and Social Sciences,
Middlesex University, London

Abstract
Objectives: To explore the bio-psychosocial impact of forced migration on asylum seekers/refugees in Malta. This paper focuses on the complex processes of interaction between asylum seekers/refugees and their physical, psychological, social and cultural environments, in their search for meaning. The author’s concern prior to the study was how the participants make sense out of their lives following forced migration whilst encompassing complex challenges, affecting their health (physically and psychologically) and their social well-being.

Design: A participatory qualitative study of subjects’ experience of forced migration was chosen for this study. Semi-structured focus group interviews were used as the main instrument to collect data. Additionally, a body outline figure was used to direct participants into the context of the study and to generate further discussion. Two research assistants who assisted with the recruiting of the sample, data collection and analysis were trained by the researcher and conducted the focus group interviews in the Amharic and Tigrinya languages.

Subjects: 14 Eritrean/Ethiopian adults 7 males and 7 females who were released from the detention centre six months prior to this study.

Results: Four themes emerged from the findings of this study. The first refers to the effects of detention over a very long period of time which contributed to feelings of helplessness, psychological distress and suicidal urges. The second theme revealed that negative attitudes and poor communication with health professionals and front desk personnel led to the inaccessibility of health care services. Moreover, according to the participants, their dark skin is the cause for avoidance and lack of social support, unemployment and hostility from the dominant culture which greatly affects their integration within the Maltese society as described in the third theme In the fourth theme participants were found to have high expectations of a third country resettlement which was perceived as a means towards better working conditions and economic prospects.

Conclusion: This study illustrates how assessing and meeting the needs of vulnerable individuals such as asylum seekers/refugees represents a challenge for health and social care. It highlights the need for implementing cultural competence training for professionals in this sphere, (see leaflet) if the needs of asylum seekers/refugees are to be addressed holistically. Furthermore, while mainstream facilities should be a basic component of the refugee experience in a resettlement country, culturally sensitive programs may contribute to facilitate acculturation

Keywords: Forced Migration, Health, Participatory Research, Psychosocial Distress, Cultural Competence


Author

Marika Podda Connor

Marika Podda Connor, MSc, BSc (Hons), RN,
School of Health and Social Sciences,
Middlesex University, London


Comments (0)

Add Comment

About this Article

Add Comment

PdfDownload the PDF version to access the complete article.

Printer FriendlyPrinter friendly version

Keywords: Forced Migration, Health, Participatory Research, Psychosocial Distress, Cultural Competence, gjcpp, 2nd ICCP