Failing to engage with CALD community puts them at health risk

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A new study funded by Flinders University reveals the importance of engaging with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities regarding public health alerts, such as those relating to Covid-19.

People with CALD backgrounds, particularly those who are older, may have difficulty keeping up with the constant changes to the health messaging and alerts.

According to the study, failing to engage with these communities puts their protective health behaviour at risk.

Dr Mohammad Hamiduzzaman, a researcher in aged care health services, says it’s important to adequately inform CALD community members, particularly those who are older, about the various health precautions surrounding public health threats like Covid-19.

This is important, he says, because if not communicated correctly, the health messages and alerts can be “frightening, stressful, increase their isolation in case of cross-infection and even prove life-threatening” to CALD community members.

Flinders University Associate Professor Noore Siddiquee, a co-author of the study, says the study reveals the effects of Covid-19 and the associated health and quarantine protocols, including fear of infection, concerns around the utilisation of health and social services, worry about work and income, stress, and isolation.

“It was clear that living in a multicultural country during the pandemic is a challenge, especially for the oldest group and females, who mostly rely on their family members and own community people for emotional care,” says Associate Professor Siddiquee.

The study also reflects on global issues including ageism, racism, the media’s influence, levels of community health literacy, health status and service access equity.

Despite the relatively small sample size (155 CALD adults), the study argues that it appears CALD populations were “somewhat overlooked in the provision of information that can help individuals make reliable decisions about their protective health behaviour.”

“Failure to engage effectively with the CALD community not only places individual members of that community at risk, but also places the entire CALD community at risk because of misunderstanding and non-compliance,” say the researchers.

“It is imperative to put in place strategies that address the specific needs of all sections of the community and to provide advice in a context, format and language that is readily understood.”