Provider and Interpreter Preferences Among Somali Women in a Primary Care Setting

Olufunso W. Odunukan, Raolat M. Abdulai, Misbil F. Hagi Salaad, Brian D. Lahr, Priscilla M. Flynn, Mark L. Wieland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objectives: Somali people are among the largest refugee populations to resettle in North America and Europe over the past 2 decades, and health disparities are well documented, including barriers to effective navigation of primary health care systems. Patient–provider gender discordance has been described as a barrier to health-seeking behaviors and effective communication by Somali women in past qualitative work. The objective of this study was to elucidate provider and interpreter preferences during clinical encounters according to gender and race among Somali women in the United States. Methods: Fifty Somali women empanelled to a large primary care practice completed pictorial surveys to elucidate preferences of Somali women for providers of different genders and race for different components of the clinical examination using a Likert-type scale. Results: We found that Somali women generally preferred a female provider for conducting the physical examination, particularly for the pelvic, breast, and abdominal examinations. Likewise, Somali women strongly preferred female interpreters to be present during the physical examination. There was no stated preference for patient–provider racial concordance. Conclusions: These findings have implications for structural health care changes aimed at delivering culturally sensitive and effective primary care to Somali patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Primary Care & Community Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project was supported by the Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine 2012 Edward C. Rosenow Endowed Professorship Residency Research Award.


  • Somali
  • health disparities
  • health literacy
  • limited English proficiency
  • women's health


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