Racism, healthcare access and health equity for people seeking asylum

Suzanne Willey, Kath Desmyth, Mandy Truong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People seeking asylum are at risk of receiving poorer quality healthcare due, in part, to racist and discriminatory attitudes, behaviours and policies in the health system. Despite fleeing war and conflict; exposure to torture and traumatic events and living with uncertainty; people seeking asylum are at high-risk of experiencing long-term poor physical and mental health outcomes in their host country. This article aims to raise awareness and bring attention to some common issues people seeking asylum face when seeking healthcare in high-income countries where the health system is dominated by a Western biomedical view of health. Clinical case scenarios are used to highlight instances of racist healthcare policies and practices that create and maintain ongoing health disparities; limited access to culturally and linguistically appropriate health services, and lack of trauma-informed approaches to care. Nurses and midwives can play an important role in countering racism in healthcare settings; by identifying and calling out discriminatory practice and modelling tolerance, respect and empathy in daily practice. We present recommendations for individuals, organisations and governments that can inform changes to policies and practices that will reduce racism and improve health equity for people seeking asylum.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12440
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalNursing Inquiry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


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