New Study Reveals Need for Further Research on Discrimination Faced by Women in the Canadian Healthcare System . Photo Credit: Muslim Advisory Council of Canada

JOBS ⚕️ New Study Reveals Need for Further Research on Discrimination Faced by Women in the Canadian Healthcare System

Friday, 07 April 2023 02:23.PM

- Study Focuses on Effects of Islamophobia on Healthcare in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom -

The McMaster Research Shop at McMaster University in conjunction with the Muslim Advisory Council of Canada (MACC) have published a study that reveals the need for further examination of discrimination towards Canadian Muslim women who largely identify as visible minorities or immigrants. The study examines the experiences of Muslim women in various domains of healthcare systems in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. These domains include mental health, maternal care, palliative care, and others. The purpose of this scoping review was to qualify and quantify a growing concern brought forward by Canadian Muslim women who have felt discriminated against within the Canadian healthcare system or who have experienced dismissive interactions with service providers when receiving health services. These negative interactions may impact the type and quality of healthcare Canadian Muslim women receive, as well as increase fear and distrust of Canadian healthcare practitioners. This fear and distrust should be addressed to mitigate negative social integration and negative health outcomes, such as delayed diagnosis, when it comes to segments of the Canadian population and publicly funded institutions.

A comparative study was conducted due to the lack of Canadian research on this topic. By leveraging literature from Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., a larger sample of women and their experiences could be reviewed. Categorization of discrimination was either described as 'overt' or 'other forms of discrimination'. An example of overt discrimination was physical aggression. A less overt form of discrimination was being ignored or being treated dismissively. "The limited Canadian research on this topic, along with the stories we hear from Canadian Muslim women, tell us that there are several counts of indirect discrimination when women seek medical attention – which is where we want to expand our focus. Given the imperative need for healthcare for all Canadians, we are asking that attention be addressed to this area of concern." said Tabassum Wyne, Executive Director of the MACC.

Research in the U.S. on this topic is more prominent, where in fact, the Muslim-American population forms a smaller proportion of the overall American population than does the Muslim-Canadian population; 1.1% of the total population vs. 4.9%, respectively. "Given the growing population of Muslims in Canada, we want to also bring light to the inadequate amount of research on this topic. The first step is doing the research, and then we can work on outcomes. But let's follow suit with other countries and get the research done as a next step," said Wyne.

"To our knowledge, there have been no large-scale Canadian studies quantifying the extent of Islamophobia towards Muslims in Canada using representative samples and validated measures," said Krishian Camargo, McMaster Research Shop Team Lead. She added, "The Canadian healthcare system is responsible for ensuring appropriate and effective care for all its citizens, yet evidence suggests not everyone is treated equally. The Muslim Advisory Council of Canada should consider conducting further studies on the experience of women and children in Canadian healthcare settings and include participants from various cultures, ethnicities, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds."

Importantly, the link between women and children is strong. Research shows that adverse outcomes on women in healthcare systems often impacts their children. The Anti-Racism Coalition within McMaster University's Department of Pediatrics fully endorses the MACC's work to address Islamophobia in the sectors of education, healthcare, public safety, and shelter and crisis services. "In discussions with our partners and community stakeholders, Islamophobia was identified as one of the priorities requiring our immediate attention. With the health and prosperity of children at our core and, as a global leader in pediatric care, we appreciate the leadership provided by the Muslim Advisory Council of Canada to support an anti-racist and anti-oppressive future within our university and hospital," said Dr. Natasha Johnson, Pediatrician, Associate Chair of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Anti-Racism Coalition member.

As a next step, the MACC is seeking support from the federal and provincial governments to conduct health equity research. This research would follow a disaggregated data strategy with Canadian visible minority and immigrant females, including girls, as the focus group. "The Muslim Advisory Council of Canada is advocating to ensure that our publicly funded healthcare institutions do not pose a barrier or hindrance to any woman or girl living in Canada. We look forward to continuing this important advocacy and truly appreciate the support we have received from Canadian pediatricians as well as McMaster University's research and healthcare institutions," concluded Wyne.

SOURCE: Muslim Advisory Council of Canada

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