Health service use in indigenous Sami and non-indigenous youth in North Norway: A population based survey

Turi, Anne Lene; Bals, Margrethe; Skre, Ingunn B.; Kvernmo, Siv
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p378
Academic Journal
Background: This is the first population based study exploring health service use and ethno-cultural factors in indigenous Sami and non-Sami youth in North Norway. The first aim of the present study was to compare the frequency of health service use between Sami adolescents and their non-indigenous peers. The second aim was to explore the relationships between health service use and ethno-cultural factors, such as ethnic context, Sami self-identification, perceived discrimination and Sami language competence. Finally, we wanted to explore the relationship between use of health services and emotional and behavioural problems. Method: The Norwegian Arctic Adolescent Health Study was conducted among 10th graders (15- 16 years old) in junior high schools in North Norway. The sample consisted of 4,449 adolescents, of whom 450 (10.1%) were indigenous Sami and 3,999 (89.9%) were non-Sami. Results: Sami and non-Sami youth used all health services with equal frequency. However, several ethno-cultural factors were found to influence health service use. Sami youth in more assimilated ethnic contexts used general practitioners more than non-Sami youth. Youth with Sami self-identification had a higher probability of using the school health service compared with other youth. Ethnic barriers to health service use were also identified. Sami speaking youth with a high degree of perceived discrimination had lower probability of using school health services than non-Sami speaking youth. Sami youth with conduct problems were less likely than non-Sami to use psychologist/psychiatrist. The present study demonstrated a relationship between health need and actual health service use. Conclusion: Culture-specific factors influenced the help-seeking process in indigenous youth; some factors acted as barriers against health service use and other factors increased the probability of health service use.


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