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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 183–186 | Cite as

Providing for the Sexual Health Needs of Canadian Immigrants

The Experience of Immigrants from Iran
  • Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale
  • Khosro Refaie Shirpak
  • Maryam Chinichian
Article

Abstract

Background

Sexual health is increasingly understood as an integral part of health. In Canada, education for sexual health is delivered predominantly in middle and secondary school. What of adults who immigrate to Canada from countries where sex education is not delivered to youth? This paper explores the needs and experiences of one such group of Canadian immigrants: those from Iran.

Method

Ten married male and 10 married female immigrants from Iran living in a midsized Canadian city were recruited using snowball sampling and participated in qualitative interviews. The sample varied in age, education level, duration of marriage, and stay in Canada.

Results

Participants addressed three themes: experiences accessing information and health services, necessary content of information, and preferred ways of providing sexual health information and services. Key barriers to accessing and using sexual health services, experienced by all interviewees, regardless of the length of time they were in Canada, included language, cultural misunderstandings, embarrassment, long waits, and limited time that physicians spent with patients. Examples were provided of misunderstandings and inappropriate or even offensive questions or suggestions made by health practitioners who were unfamiliar with patients’ cultural norms related to sexuality. Participants believed their needs and questions were different from their Canadian counterparts and wanted a confidential, linguistically and culturally friendly source of information such as a website in the Farsi language.

Conclusions

More attention needs to be paid to developing public health and medical services related to sexual health that take account of the cultural diversities represented in the Canadian population.

MeSH terms

Immigrants health services health education sexuality 

Résumé

Contexte

On considère de plus en plus la santé sexuelle comme faisant partie intégrante de la santé. Au Canada, l’éducation à la santé sexuelle se donne principalement au premier et au deuxième cycles de l’école secondaire. Qu’en est-il des adultes qui immigrent au Canada en provenance de pays où les jeunes ne reçoivent aucune éducation sexuelle? Nous analysons ici les besoins et l’expérience d’un tel groupe d’immigrants au Canada: les Iraniens.

Méthode

À l’aide d’un sondage cumulatif, nous avons recruté 10 hommes mariés et 10 femmes mariées émigrés d’Iran vivant dans une ville canadienne de taille moyenne et nous les avons fait participer à des entretiens en profondeur. L’âge, le niveau d’instruction, la durée du mariage et la durée du séjour au Canada variaient au sein de l’échantillon.

Résultats

Les participants ont discuté de trois thèmes: leur expérience de l’accès à l’information et aux services de santé, la pertinence de l’information reçue, et leurs préférences quant au mode de prestation de l’information et des services de santé sexuelle. Les principaux obstacles à l’accès et à l’utilisation des services de santé sexuelle, vécus par toutes les personnes interrogées quelle que soit la durée de leur séjour au Canada, étaient la langue, les malentendus culturels, l’embarras, les longues attentes et le temps limité que les médecins consacrent à leurs patients. On nous a donné des exemples de malentendus et de questions ou de suggestions incongrues, ou même offensantes, formulées par des professionnels de la santé qui ignoraient les normes culturelles de ces patients en matière de sexualité. Les participants étaient convaincus d’avoir des besoins et des questions différents de ceux de leurs concitoyens et auraient voulu avoir une source d’information confidentielle adaptée à leurs besoins linguistiques et culturels, par exemple un site Web en persan.

Conclusion

Il faudrait s’efforcer d’élaborer des services médicaux et de santé publique en santé sexuelle qui tiennent compte de la diversité culturelle de la population canadienne.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale
    • 1
  • Khosro Refaie Shirpak
    • 1
  • Maryam Chinichian
    • 1
  1. 1.Social Justice & Sexual Health Research LabUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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