Poles constitute the largest group of migrants in Norway. Research confirms a steady inflow and a minimal outflow of Polish migrants. One of the key aspects of migrants’ structural integration is access to health care services. This study explored barriers to and facilitators of Polish migrants’ access to Norwegian health care services.
A qualitative interview-based study was carried out between November 2013 and July 2014. The study is part of a larger, ongoing mixed-method study of Polish migrants’ access to health care services in Norway. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 Polish migrants in Oslo. The interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed. Thematic analysis was performed to identify barriers and facilitators related to the use of Norwegian health care services.
Migrants experienced several barriers to and facilitators of access to health care services in Norway. The barriers most often mentioned were problems resulting from insufficient command of the language, related communication problems, and lack of knowledge about navigating the Norwegian health care system. Other barriers related to the organization of the health care system, perceptions of doctors’ skills and practices, and attitudes among health personnel. Factors such as having a Polish social network, meeting friendly health personnel, and perceptions of equal treatment of all patients, facilitated access to and use of health care services.
The study shows that there are both system- and patient-related barriers to and facilitators of migrants’ access to health services in Norway. These findings suggest that successful inclusion of migrants into the Norwegian health system requires regular evaluation of access and utilization of health care services.