Universal health care? the views of Negev Bedouin Arabs on health services

Jeffrey M. Borkan, Mohammed Morad, Shifra Shvarts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Background: This study examines health and health care attitudes, practices and utilization patterns among the Bedouin Arab minority in the south of Israel. Particular attention is given to the effects of the new National Insurance Law that provides universal coverage for the first time, and to the identification of critical issues for further research. Methods: Focus groups, adapted to Bedouin culture, were the primary method of data collection. Twelve groups (158 participants) from throughout the Negev met for 3-7 sessions each, using specially trained local moderators and observers. Issues discussed and analyzed included experience and satisfaction with the current health system (both modern and traditional), health service availability/barriers, health care needs, influences of social change, and the National Insurance Law. Results: Participants voice dissatisfaction with modern health services in the Bedouin sector and the state of health of Negev Bedouin. They place great emphasis on the connection between health and the rapid social and economic changes, which this traditionally nomadic group is undergoing. Traditional health care is felt to still exist, but its importance is waning. The National Insurance law is having a major impact on the Bedouin, particularly because it provides universal health insurance coverage where only partial coverage had been in effect. Conclusions: This study, one of the first of its kind in the Bedouin sector, showed that the focus group method, if properly modified to cultural norms, can be a valuable research tool in traditional communities and in health service research. The findings from this research can be used to direct efforts to improve health policy and health services for this group, as well as preparing the way for further qualitative or quantitative studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-216
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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