Migrant health in New Zealand: Exploring issues concerning medicines access and use

Zaheer Ud Din Babar, Kelly Pengelly, Shane L. Scahill, Sanjay Garg, John Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Every year a cohort of new migrants enters New Zealand (NZ), bringing challenges that impact on medicines use and health outcomes. The prescribing of medicines is a common therapeutic intervention and access to medicines and optimal use cannot be assumed for these populations. Internationally the literature exploring issues relating to medicines access and use by migrants in high-income countries is scarce. This study aims to explore attitudes, beliefs and perceptions of a cohort of migrants about medicines access and use in NZ. Methods: A qualitative research methodology was employed with participants being recruited through snowballing techniques and interviewed (seven Indian and four Chinese). Following consent, a semi-structured guide was used for discussions. Themes were developed from codes based on the guide. These themes were developed by two members of the research team and reviewed by a third member. Results: Emergent themes reflected the following dialogue: (a) financial barriers: paying doctor and pharmacist, lack of affordability of over-the-counter medicines, sharing medicines with family and friends; (b) information transfer and knowledge of rules, systems and initiatives, particularly regarding subsidies and brand switching; (c) misconceptions due to culture and language barriers, including not understanding information and lack of compliance in symptom-free disease; (d) perceptions of high quality in prescription medicines; (e) non-disclosure of traditional medicine use and (f) variability of community pharmacy service provision, especially counselling. Conclusions: Significant barriers to access and optimal use of medicines by new migrants in NZ were identified. Policy change and educational interventions are likely to be required to improve medicines-related health care to migrant New Zealanders. Future research will need to quantify the extent of the issues and interventions should be developed and evaluated as ongoing research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
Issue number1
Early online date7 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


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