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Afghan families and health professionals’ access to health information during and after pregnancy

      Abstract

      Background

      Having a baby in a new country can be challenging, especially if unable to communicate in a preferred language. The aim of this paper is to explore the provision of health information for Afghan women and men during pregnancy, childbirth and the first year after birth in Melbourne, Australia.

      Methods

      Community engagement underpinned the study design. Qualitative study with bicultural researchers conducting semi-structured interviews. Interviews and focus groups were also conducted with health professionals.

      Results

      Sixteen Afghan women and 14 Afghan men with a baby aged 4–12 months participated. Thirty four health professionals also participated. Verbal information provided by a health professional with an interpreter was the most common way in which information was exchanged, and was generally viewed favourably by Afghan women and men. Families had limited access to an interpreter during labour and some families reported difficulty accessing an interpreter fluent in their dialect. Availability of translated information was inconsistent and health professionals occasionally used pictures to support explanations. Women and men were unsure of the role of health professionals in providing information about issues other than pregnancy and infant wellbeing.

      Conclusion

      Both individual and health system issues hinder and enable the availability and use of information. Consistent, understandable and ‘actionable’ information is required to meet the needs of diverse families. Health professionals need to be supported with adequate alternatives to written information and access to appropriate interpreters. Inconsistent provision of information is likely to contribute to low health literacy and poor maternal and child health outcomes.

      Keywords

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