01 Learning from migrant women’s experiences and improving healthcare services


Swiss health policy aims to promote equity in healthcare services. This study analyses migrant women’s experience of healthcare services for chronic diseases and actively involves patients in the development of new approaches.

Portrait / project description (ongoing research project)

The study focusses on chronically ill migrant women of Portuguese, Turkish and German origin and on Swiss women with chronic diseases. These groups show similarities, but also differences, in their state of health and the use they make of the available healthcare services. The study will investigate how patients perceive their health and needs for healthcare as well as their resources to manage their health problems. In particular, it will explore how their experiences with the health system affect the way they use the available healthcare services. Planning sessions involving specialists from the healthcare and from social work communities and patients will be conducted to develop recommendations for improving healthcare for chronically ill migrant women.


Switzerland has one of the best healthcare systems in Europe. Yet access to healthcare is limited for certain population groups. Migrant women, for example, use healthcare services (such as screening programmes) less often compared to population average usage although they are more likely to suffer from chronic illness. As yet, the practical experience gained by patients with migrant background has rarely been incorporated into scientific approaches to the problem. Similarly, these women have rarely been engaged in the development of solutions.


The aim of the study is to show how chronically ill migrant women experience the Swiss health care system, and how they perceive, comprehend, interpret and use it. New approaches to improving access and use of healthcare will be developed with the active participation of chronic patients.

Relevance / Application

The study will help to improve the healthcare structures for migrant women and to promote their access to healthcare. The results can be used in academic teaching of medicine and the social and health sciences and in practical vocational training in medicine and social work.

Original title

Migrant Women’s Health Care Needs for Chronic Illness Services in Switzerland (MIWOCA)

Project leaders


  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Abel, Institut für Sozial- und Präventivmedizin, Universität Bern

Project partners:

  • Dr. Annika Frahsa, Institut für Sportwissenschaft, Universität Tübingen
  • Prof. Sibel Sakarya, School of Medicine, Koç University, Istanbul
  • Prof. Sandro Cattacin, Département de Sociologie, Faculté des Sciences de la Société, Université de Genève



Further information on this content


Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Abel Universität Bern
Institut für Sozial- und Präventivmedizin
Finkenhubelweg 11 3012 Bern +41 31 631 35 12

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