Perceptions about the accessibility of healthcare services among ethnic minority women: a qualitative study among Arab Bedouins in Israel

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8 Scopus citations


Background: Access to healthcare services has major implications for vulnerable populations’ health. Socio-cultural and gender characteristics shape the utilization and access of healthcare services among ethnic minorities worldwide. One such vulnerable ethnic minority is the Arab Bedouin women in Israel. As women, they are marginalized in their community, where women do not have full equity and they experience multiple barriers to healthcare services The main objective of this study is to provide a nuanced, experiential, emic description of healthcare accessibility issues among Bedouin women in Israel. Identifying the barriers, they face in accessing healthcare may help healthcare policymakers make changes based on and tailored to Bedouin women’s needs. Methods: A qualitative study included in-depth semi-structured interviews with 21 Arab Bedouin village residents, consisting of 14 women and 7 men. Eligible participants were Arab Bedouins over 18 years of age and who used healthcare services at least once in the last 5 years. The interviews were carried out in Arabic-Bedouin dialect and included demographic questions, open-ended questions that asked about participants’ perceptions regarding their experiences with healthcare services, including the factors that helped and hindered them in accessing these services and questions regarding suggestions for improving the accessibility of healthcare services based on the identified needs. Data collected were analyzed using thematic analysis. Study trustworthiness was ensured using audit, reflexivity, and peer debriefing. Results: Arab Bedouin women experienced varied barriers while accessing healthcare services. This study uncovered how language, cultural and gender barriers intersect with other disadvantages ingrained in social norms, values and beliefs and affect the access of a minority women subgroup to healthcare services. The participants identified subgroups of Bedouin women (e.g. elderly Bedouin women) affected differently by these barriers. Conclusion: Taking into consideration the identified needs and the Arab Bedouin women’s unique characteristics, along with adopting the intersectional approach should help improve access to healthcare services among such a vulnerable subgroup and other subgroups within minorities worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Arab
  • Bedouins
  • Cultural competency
  • Healthcare accessibility
  • Intersectionality
  • Minority
  • Qualitative research
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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