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Maternal health services: an equal or framed territory?

Joana Bessa Topa (Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Maia Institute of Higher Education, Maia, Portugal and a Researcher at Interdisciplinary Centre of Gender Studies, Lisbon, Portugal)
Conceição Oliveira Nogueira (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal) (Centre of Psychology of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Sofia Antunes Neves (Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Maia Institute of Higher Education, Maia, Portugal and Interdisciplinary Centre of Gender Studies, Lisbon, Portugal)

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

ISSN: 2056-4902

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the high prevalence of immigrant women at the national level, studies on migration have been indifferent to the gender perspective. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the engagement of Ukrainian immigrant women, one of the most expressive nationalities of female immigration in Portugal, on maternal and child healthcare services, exploring their perceptions and experiences in these contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

On the basis of critical and social constructionism assumptions, this research focusses on discourse. Assuming that immigrant women have access to different resources, as well as different competences to interpret and intervene within the context they are in (Topa et al., 2010; UNFPA, 2006), the best method to deeply understand their experiences was to analyse how discourse is organized and how it creates and produces meanings that become practices (Nogueira, 2001a). The present study adopted a qualitative methodology for collecting (semi-structured interviews) and analysing the data (thematic analysis) and was based on discourses of ten Ukrainian women, living in the metropolitan area of Oporto, who were pregnant or were mothers in Portugal.

Findings

Ukrainian women were misinformed about their legal rights and free access to maternal health services. Some dissatisfaction emerges among them with regard to the quality of information provided by health professionals and their communication skills. Their opinion is that they are given limited access to medical specialties, especially in primary care and that their doubts are inappropriately clarified during medical appointments.

Originality/value

This research also argues that cultural and intersectional considerations are fundamental to promote inclusive health policies for immigrants.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Portuguese national funds through FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, under project UID/SOC/04304/2013 and results from a PhD Thesis in Social Psychology done at the Minho University, Portugal. The author acknowledges the participants, the research advisory group and the immigrant associations for their recruitment and support roles.

Citation

Topa, J.B., Nogueira, C.O. and Neves, S.A. (2017), "Maternal health services: an equal or framed territory?", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 110-122. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHRH-11-2015-0039

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited