, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 15-27

Patterns of Health Services Utilization by Recent Immigrants

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This study was undertaken to analyze how the way young, recently immigrated, families utilize health services evolves over time. Twenty families participated in the study. They all included at least one child of preschool age, had immigrated less than 8 years previously, and had used primary healthcare services since their arrival. A triphasic pattern of utilization was observed, consisting of contact with one or more health services, selection of specific services from those available, and consolidation of choices. Families relied upon a variety of information sources in each of these phases. The primary attributes upon which the families based their evaluation, selection, and adoption of health services were geographical and temporal accessibility, interpersonal and technical quality of services, and language spoken by health professionals and staff. Perception of health services' attributes is influenced by the families' sociocultural referents and preemigration experience. Results indicate that utilization of primary healthcare services progressively changes over time, evolving from the ad hoc use of walk-in services to the adoption of regular sources of care.