PhD: Improving healthcare for migrant and minority ethnic populations: an exploration of the impact of Health Navigators

University of Sheffield - School of Health & Related Research

New migrants and some minority ethnic groups can face considerable challenges when trying to access healthcare. Unfamiliarity with healthcare services and barriers within healthcare systems can contribute to some migrants and minority ethnic groups being poorly or under-served. This can place short- and long-term health at risk and contributes to health inequalities.

Health navigators can help new arrivals and under-served groups access appropriate healthcare. Working within community or healthcare settings, navigators provide culturally sensitive advice to guide patients to care that best meets their needs. They do not provide healthcare services directly but address barriers to care, can act as a broker between patients and health professionals and may offer wider social support to enable patient access to social determinants (e.g. employment, housing, immigration advice). They can offer an important contact point for new arrivals and minorities, fostering trust and empowerment (Natale-Pereira et al. 2014).

This is a mixed methods study that will explore the role and value of the health navigators in a UK/European context. The focus is minority ethnic and migrant populations and how health navigators – in their broadest sense – can impact on health. This includes patient practices, use of services and health inequalities. The study starts with a systematic review of the literature of health navigators in the UK/Europe. From the review findings, you will identify research gaps that will be addressed in primary empirical research. These may include qualitative or quantitative studies of the perceived and actual value of health navigators in a given setting or for a specific population. Primary research will require close working with key decision-makers and healthcare providers in the statutory and voluntary sector.

Applicants should have a social sciences background and have a strong understanding of public health and inequalities issues. Ability to speak community languages would be considered an asset. Experience in using qualitative and/or quantitative and review methods is essential and you should have confidence in working with community partners and underserved populations. You will work with the Health Equity and Inclusion research group and contribute actively to its outputs. Your study aligns with and will impact on the health inequalities and inclusion health agendas of existing partners at Public Health England/NHS England.

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Northern England