The whole picture of healthcare in diverse communities
After an exponential increase in the use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) across the world, it is no surprise these practices accompany migrants to their destination countries during the migration process. Ethnicity and culture are paramount factors in determining the rates, types and patterns of TCAM use for migrants from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, including minority groups, vulnerable populations and underserved communities.
“What we don’t know is how people of CALD communities in Australia are using these practices and how this may influence their conventional health help-seeking behaviours,” explains Josephine Agu, PhD student at the Australian Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM).
Josephine’s research project investigates TCAM use in people living with dementia and their carers from CALD communities in Australia, as well as the experiences, knowledge levels and attitudes towards these practices among their health service providers.
“In a world where we strive to achieve social justice and health equity in our health system, this is an area that should not be ignored. To effectively tackle health inequities, health systems should improve the services available to diverse communities by considering and adequately addressing the impact of cultural influences on the health help seeking decisions,” said Josephine.
Josephine’s exploratory research involves one-on-one in depth interviews with families and carers from Chinese- and Korean-speaking communities in the Sydney metropolitan area about their TCAM practices. She is also interviewing ethnic health workers in the regional health authority about their experiences with patients from this population.
The research aims to provide evidence to inform guidelines for integrative healthcare provision. With healthcare services that reflect their health care needs and practices, CALD groups will have better access to adequate health care.
Distinguished Professor Jon Adams notes that Josephine’s research aligns with the Faculty’s central public health agenda. “It’s about looking at the challenges and opportunities of everything that people use and understanding how we can keep people safe and healthy. We can’t understand what works and what doesn’t if we’re not looking at the whole picture of healthcare.”