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Arch Hellen Med, 30(1), January-February 2013, 59-66


Access and use of health services in Cyprus by housemaids from non-EU countries

M. Kantaris, M. Theodorou
Open University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus

OBJECTIVE To investigate the conditions of access and use of health services in Cyprus by housemaids from non-EU countries, highlighting potential obstacles and problems, and to record the perceptions of this group on the health services in Cyprus.

METHOD A cross-sectional study was carried out on a population of housemaids, legal immigrants from non-EU countries, from which a sample of 625 individuals was selected. The sampling method was a combination of convenience sampling and snowball sampling. The data were collected using a questionnaire developed specifically for the needs of this study between early October 2010 and the end of April 2011. Statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), v. 17.0 and included methods of descriptive and inferential analysis.

RESULTS The main reasons for health service usage by the housemaids were blood tests, shortterm illnesses and injuries/poisonings. In addition, 18.2% (n=114) of housemaids reported a need for health services that was not met and 10.4% (n=65) a need for medication that was not fulfilled. Eight in 10 housemaids who used health services accessed them accompanied by their employer or another Greek Cypriot, and 51% of participants reported using medications supplied by their employer. The first action in the event of a health problem was reported by 61.7% of housemaids to be seeking advice and assistance from their employer.

CONCLUSIONS The findings of this study are in concordance with those of similar investigations. The barriers of language and communication and the ignorance of the system (health illiteracy) and the different culture are evident among foreign domestic workers in Cyprus. The role of the employer is very important with regard to the access and use of health services by the housemaids. It was found that housemaids use more services related to treatment and much less those for prevention and diagnosis. Some of these findings are attributed to the specific group of housemaids from non-EU countries and the conditions prevailing in Cyprus.

Key words: Cyprus, Health services access, Health services utilization, Migrant workers.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine