Master's Project Title:

Access to health care among immigrant women and children from Sudan in St. Cloud, Minnesota

MCH Student:

Sylvia Cook

Date of Defense:

July 17, 2012


Background: Minnesota experienced an influx of immigrants, many from Africa, since 1994. The St. Cloud area is now home to immigrants from many countries in Africa, including from Sudan.

Purpose: This study was conducted to assess access to health care services and barriers to access to health care services for Nuer women and children who are immigrants from Sudan.

Methods: We conducted a qualitative study with Nuer immigrant women in the St. Cloud area. Three focus groups were held with 17 women. Their comments were organized into seven themes: Reasons to Access Medical Care, Cultural Gender Roles, Language Barriers, Health Literacy, Medical Coverage, Other Barriers to Accessing Health Care, and Desired Changes.

Results: Language barriers described by participants were complex and interwoven with other barriers such as transportation. Medical providers do not have the capacity to have specific knowledge of each immigrant group’s specific cultural needs or to hire staff from each of the cultures represented by the clients accessing the services, but community awareness of some of the barriers perceived by the focus group participants may lead to ideas and actions that will decrease some of the barriers. The focus group participants in all three sessions suggested that a Nuer – speaking woman who spoke English well, understood health care and worked in the clinic or hospital all the time would improve their access and quality of health care. None could identify a woman who met the characteristics they described. An alternative they did not suggest was learning English.

Conclusion: Community mentors could support the Nuer women in this and help them navigate the health care system.