“Collective Cultural Research” reaches final stage and shares its first findings

Many challenges are faced by migrant mothers in the Netherlands, particularly those from different cultures, due to language barriers and a lack of clarity about the Dutch healthcare system. According to a research published by NIH in 2020, asylum-seeking women experience significantly higher maternal mortality and prenatal mortality rates, along with increased risks of maternal morbidity. Partnering with GGD, Somastel, Nisa 4 Nisa and VU (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), The Road of Hope Foundation is leading a research initiative called “Collectief Cultuureel Onderzoek” (CCO) or “Collective Cultural Research” in English, which aims to bridge the gap between healthcare professionals and pregnant women or mothers from 4 different background and nationalities (Syrians, Eretrian, Moroccan and Somali). The CCO gathered experiences from both groups aiming to provide intercultural training for professionals to improve the healthcare support for newcomer women during pregnancy and after childbirth. It started in August 2022 and ends this first semester of 2023, presenting its first results.

Valérie Chin presents the first findings of research to partnering organizations.

The initial findings of the study was shared to all the partners on July 20th, revealing the contrasting perspectives between mothers and care professionals. Syrian mothers, for exemple, emphasise preserving and passing down their cultural history, expressing overall satisfaction with their care despite the lack of ultrasounds. “I understood everything very well, except for the last appointment when I had to go to the specialist, in the hospital to check the baby’s heart. Then I was very worried that something had gone wrong. Not enough ultrasounds are taken here”. On the other hand, Eritrean mothers often express dissatisfaction with hospital and maternity care, compounded by the lack of family support within their close-knit community. Syrian mother missed the help of their families here. Even though some of them had help from friends, they felt lost and sad.  Further, Most Somali women have experienced many complications, such as low hemoglobin levels, miscarriages, stillbirths and early deaths. They mentioned that healthcare professionals had not considered their bodies during childbirth because of their circumcision. Most women, however, do not mention any areas for improvement with regard to childbirth care during the interviews.

Both Syrian, Eritrean and Somali mothers share concerns about language barriers and perceive a Western-oriented approach to care from the caregivers. “I couldn’t understand anything, so I stopped asking questions”, said one of the research’s participant, which shows that language barriers pose significant challenges, as caregivers sometimes struggle to understand mothers’ needs, leading to suppressed questions and communication difficulties. The women surveyed frequently mention the lack of ultrasounds and medical examinations, and professionals acknowledge their shortcomings in providing appropriate care due to limited knowledge of the cultural context and circumstances. Overall, mothers from different backgrounds show strong ties to their religion and community, while professionals tend to adopt an individualistic approach, raising concerns about community dominance. 

This research was yearned to gather real-life experiences and narratives and is now intended to create a theatre play that will portray diverse backgrounds and the challenges faced by individuals. “Creating awareness around how to work in a culturally sensitive way will support both the women in getting the best care and the professionals in doing their job,” said Valérie Chin, the coordinator of the research. In pursuit of equitable healthcare and further assistance for both groups, another crucial step involved crafting an Ebook tailored for medical professionals, complete with illustrations. 

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