Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Health seeking narratives of unwell Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Melbourne Australia

Sophia Samuel A C , Jenny Advocat B and Grant Russell B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Monash University, School of Primary and Allied Health Care, Southern Academic Primary Care Research Unit, Building 1, 270 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill, Vic. 3168, Australia.

B Monash University, School of Primary and Allied Health Care, Department of General Practice, Building 1, 270 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill, Vic 3168, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: sophia.samuel@emphn.org.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health - https://doi.org/10.1071/PY17033
Submitted: 13 April 2017  Accepted: 29 August 2017   Published online: 29 November 2017

Abstract

Sri Lankan Tamil refugees are among the largest group of refugees to resettle in Australia in the last decade. The aim of this study is to characterise the narratives of health-seeking among unwell Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Drawing on a qualitative, phenomenological perspective, we conducted in-depth interviews in Tamil and English with 12 participants who identified as being unwell for 6 months or more. Findings revealed three narratives of health-seeking: the search for the ‘good life’ that was lost or never experienced, seeking help from familiar channels in an unfamiliar context, and the desire for financial and occupational independence. These three narratives are undergirded by the metanarrative of a hope-filled recovery. These narratives of Tamil refugees’ lived experience provide new insights into clinical care and health service delivery.

Additional keywords: health-seeking narratives, qualitative methods.


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