A qualitative study of immigrant women on long-term sick leave and their experience of dignity
Kumar, Bernadette N.
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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore if and how immigrant women suffering from chronic pain experience and maintain their dignity, during rehabilitation. Methods: The study was designed as a field study, with participant observation and in-depth interviews. Participant observations were carried out during a rehabilitation course for 14 immigrant women on an outpatient clinic at a rehabilitation hospital in southern Norway. In-depth interviews were performed after the rehabilitation period. Hermeneutic analysis was applied to interpret the data. Results: Findings show that the immigrant women experienced dignity by being seen, respected and believed by family-members, healthcare personnel and other patients at the outpatient clinic. Moreover, they maintained their dignity through a sense of their own value, integrity, religious faith and hope for the future. Conclusions: The immigrant women maintained and protected their dignity by finding strength, pride, and self-worth in their religion and through their family-members’ affection. Taking responsibility for themselves and others and experiencing fellowship and equality with other women, they enhanced their dignity during their rehabilitation process. The caring attitudes and behavior of some healthcare personnel promoted patient dignity. They also gained hope and dignity by experiencing goodness, cultural competence, and sensitivity from healthcare personnel. Implications for rehabilitation This study shows that the family role is more important for the immigrant women than the role as an employee, although financial independence and being able to help relatives financially also were central. Fellowship and equality with other patients, together with a rehabilitation program, which is facilitated for different language levels, were understood as important factors for an effective recovery. Enough time to get to know the patients and cultural competence seems to be central components for the health care personnel to give efficient help to immigrants in rehabilitation. Immigrants from low/middle-income countries appear to apply their religiousness as a resource in their lives to a greater extent than native Norwegians do, and should be taken into consideration when planning and implementing rehabilitation programs for immigrants.