‘Give us the weapon to argue’: eHealth and the Somali community of Manchester

Alex Flynn, Donal Flynn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The objective of this study was to investigate the perceptions of a marginalised community, the Somali community in Manchester, UK, with regard to the possible benefits and disadvantages of eHealth as a means of providing patient healthcare information. Focus groups and semi-structured interviews were used to collect the views and experiences of 34 Somalis. Data were then coded and analysed for emergent themes. Findings demonstrated that the prospect of eHealth implementation was viewed positively, with an increase in self-confidence highlighted as an anticipated outcome. Specifically, this study found that: (1) in contrast to commonly accepted notions of the digital divide, marginalised groups such as UK Somalis perceive the Internet as beneficial; (2) in terms of accessing information, participants were willing to engage with the concept of eHealth but were concerned about a resultant reduction of GPs; (3) the experience of primary healthcare was, on the whole, negatively perceived; (4) actively participating in one's own healthcare was welcomed to a certain extent, but with many reservations. The study concluded that, despite proof of adverse incorporation, there is a desire for better health information and a belief that eHealth may facilitate its provision. If the relationship with the main primary care health provider (the GP) is not working well, eHealth may provide the Somali community with a complementary route for obtaining healthcare information that they can trust. There are circumstances that can be adapted to ensure that this information is accessible for those Somalis who need it most. At present, however, a range of factors, including problems of interculture communication, are preventing the Somali community from accessing the public health services to which they are entitled.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)255-267
    Number of pages13
    JournalDiversity in Health and Social Care
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


    • Adverse Incorporation
    • Doctor-Patient Relationship
    • Ehealth
    • Somali Community


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