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The maternity information concerns of Somali women in the United Kingdom


Peter Bath, Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK. E-mail:


The maternity information concerns of Somali women in the United Kingdom

Aims. The aims of the study were to explore the maternity information concerns of a group of Somali women in a Northern English city and to investigate the relationships of these women with maternity health professionals.

Background. The Somali community is one of the most established ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom (UK). The health needs of this group and in particular, the information needs of Somali women with respect to pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal care are poorly understood. To facilitate information provision to birthing mothers and to support maternal decision-making among minority ethnic women, research is required to understand and identify their information needs.

Methods. A user-centred study utilizing a focus group and semi-structured interviews with English-speaking and non-English speaking Somali women was conducted in a large English city. Discussions were audiotaped, translated, transcribed and then analysed using a variation of the constant comparative method. Themes and categories were identified across transcripts during data collection and analysis and appropriate quotations are used to illustrate all themes.

Findings. Major findings that emerged from the analysis related to contact with health professionals, language support and information and satisfaction with health professionals. The findings indicate key maternity information concerns of Somali women with regard to maternity issues and have a number of implications for midwifery and nursing practice.

Conclusions. Poor communication between the non-English speaking Somali women and health workers was perceived as an underlying problem in seeking information. Fears about misinterpretation and confidentiality, limit the usefulness of interpreters. The Somali women perceived that they were denied information due to punitive attitudes and prejudiced views among health professionals.

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