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The University of Southampton
Clinical Ethics, Law and Society

Research project: HCP attitudes towards refugees - Dormant

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Within the United Kingdom (UK), asylum seekers and refugees fare worse than the general population on almost all measures of health and wellbeing. Simply providing ‘more or better’ healthcare is not sufficient to overcome inequalities; rather understanding the root cause of these imbalances is necessary to enable us to address the complex clinical needs of the population group.

“The effect is immediately disorientating, which in itself reminds us our dependence on the written word for security and authority when it comes to meaning”.1(p31)

This short excerpt from a Somali refugee illustrates an example of underlying concerns about the doctor/patient relationship that may impact on care:
 1.‘‘When people are new to the country they might think if you tell all your problems to this doctor, maybe it will affect you getting a job and staying here. So some people might hide what’s going on with them” .2(p288)

For this PhD project, I want to understand the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees with doctors and the UK health system. The first phase of my research involves getting a better understanding of the healthcare experiences of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. I am interested in knowing how they accessed doctors, their relationships with the doctors and how the consultations went. During the second phase of the project, I will explore doctor’s experiences, beliefs and perceptions of working with refugees. Ultimately, I want to influence policy to develop more effective responses to the healthcare challenges that refugees face.


For further information please contact Dr Devendra Rajwani.


1. Taylor K. Asylum seekers, refugees, and the politics of access to health care: a UK perspective. British Journal of General Practice. 2009; 59(567): 765-72.
2. Shannon PJ, Wieling E, Simmelink-McCleary J and Becher E. Beyond stigma: Barriers to discussing mental health in refugee populations. Journal of Loss and Trauma 2015; 20(3): 281-96.



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