Dr Jessica Botfield

Postgraduate Research Student

Graduation Year: 2019
Research Topic: Engaging young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds with sexual and reproductive health care
Supervisors: Prof Anthony ZwiA/Prof Christy Newman

Description: Young people who identify with a minority cultural and/or language background may be at heightened risk of poor sexual and reproductive health and have limited engagement with sexual and reproductive healthcare. Whilst there is increasing recognition of this issue in Australia, little empirical research has explored the views and experiences of migrant and refugee young people in relation to this. This thesis reports on exploratory qualitative research undertaken in Sydney, New South Wales, to address this gap. Methods included a broad literature review, a scoping review, semi-structured interviews with ‘professional’ key informants (n = 34), and semi-structured first interviews (n = 27), follow-up interviews (n= 9) and walking interviews (n=6, with a total of 15 walking interviews) with migrant and refugee young people. Young people could participate if they were 16-24 years, lived in Sydney, identified with a migrant or refugee background, and spoke a language other than English. Despite being from diverse cultural and language backgrounds, the young people who participated were more similar than different regarding their views and experiences with information and services for sexual and reproductive health. They described a persistent taboo among family and community in relation to sexuality and sexual health. School was identified as their main source of information on this growing up. Most were unaware of the different services available for supporting young people in pursuing sexual and reproductive health. The option of seeing a ‘specialised’ service for this aspect of health appealed to many, as these were perceived to be more confidential and non-judgemental than general practitioners or ‘family’ doctors. Findings highlight the complexities of designing effective healthcare systems that incorporate the varied experiences and backgrounds of young people, and the importance of reaching diverse populations with sexual and reproductive health promotion and care. Findings could contribute to enhancing policy and practice approaches to engaging diverse young people with sexual and reproductive health care in Sydney and similar metropolitan settings. There is an important opportunity for ‘specialised’ sexual and reproductive health services and general practitioners to better engage migrant and refugee young people and ensure provision of welcoming and inclusive services.

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