Determination of Perceived Language Barriers in Accessing Healthcare Services According to Syrian Refugees Visiting Two Training and Research Hospitals in Ankara
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The Syrian war which has started in 2011, caused the largest humanitarian and refugee crisis of the present time. Healthcare services are provided at no cost to the Syrian refugees in Turkey, however, the language barrier remains a major problem in accessing healthcare services. We aimed to examine the dimensions of language problem among Syrian refugees, while accessing healthcare services in Ankara. A questionnaire consisting of 38 questions was used as the survey tool. For the study sample characteristics, frequencies and percentages were reported. For cross-tabulations, statistical significance was determined using the Pearson Chi-Square test. Of the 221 participants 46.6% were males, while 53.4% of them were females. Participants were between 18-85 years old (mean: 36 years old). 11.1% can speak Turkish. 77.1% of the participants believed that the language barrier has a negative effect in accessing healthcare services. 51.1% of the participants did not use healthcare services at least once, despite their need. 48.5% of the participants used hospital interpreters while 20.6%, 17.6% and 13.2% of them did not get any help, used ad hoc interpreters such as friends or family members and used a private interpreter respectively during healthcare visits. Perception of language as a barrier was more common, among participants, who were married, jobless, illiterate, had no Turkish speaking relatives or had diseases. Gender, economic status, having Turkish-speaking relatives and having diseases were variables showing association with the method they used to cope with the language barrier. Employment status and having social relationships with the local people seem to be very important in learning the Turkish language, hence having a better access to healthcare services, which highlighted the issue of integration. Nevertheless, with a society like Syrian one, gender preference might be an important factor in this aspect even if such opportunities are available.