Migrant women in Austria: difficulties with access to health care services

Marion Habersack (Senior Scientist, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria)
Irmina‐Anna Gerlich (Researcher, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria)
Manuela Mandl (Researcher, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria)

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1757-0980

Publication date: 21 February 2011



The objectives of the study, which focuses on reproductive health care services, are to identify factors that impede adequate access to care for migrant women and to identify possible solutions.


In this case study, problem‐based, semi‐structured individual interviews were conducted with 12 migrant women, eight staff members of non‐governmental organizations (NGOs), and eight staff members of a public hospital (physicians, nurses). The transcripts were analyzed using a grounded thematic approach.


Problems in access to services were identified in four areas: accessibility/information; institutional infrastructure; language barriers; and cultural competences.

Social implications

There is a need to develop culture‐specific understanding of health amongst service providers working in public hospitals. It is also necessary to raise awareness of traditional beliefs and behavior of migrant women to maximize good quality care. A closer collaboration of hospitals and NGOs is recommended, not least in order to ensure the demand‐ and needs‐orientation, appropriateness, effectiveness, and efficiency of health care for migrant women. Migrant women mentioned different approaches to delivering care – these solutions should, where possible, be applied in practice.


The study correlates and supports knowledge from existing literature regarding possible barriers to the use of health care services by women with migrant backgrounds. Recommendations for overcoming existing barriers are also identified by research participants.



Habersack, M., Gerlich, I. and Mandl, M. (2011), "Migrant women in Austria: difficulties with access to health care services", Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 6-15. https://doi.org/10.1108/17570981111189542

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