The health needs of the Greek Cypriot people living in two London boroughs

Papadopoulos, Irena (1999) The health needs of the Greek Cypriot people living in two London boroughs. Doctoral thesis, University of North London.


This study aimed to identify the health needs of the Greek Cypriots living in London by investigating their health and health behaviours and by comparing them with those of the indigenous population. The study also sought to discover whether health workers we able to meet these needs in a culturally sensitive and competent manner by assessing the level of information in their possession and their understanding of the Greek Cypriot culture and lifestyle, and its impact on health.

The study used both qualitative and quantitative methodologies for the collection and analysis of data. The two main methods used were the face-to-face interviews and the survey. A total of 358 individuals took part in the study.

The findings of the qualitative phase, provide a unique insight into the health beliefs, values and practices of the Greek Cypriots and indicate that culture is indeed an important influencing factor on health and lifestyles. The health and lifestyle survey provides statistical information which has not been available thus far, and whilst some of the findings should be viewed with caution, some are statistically significant and generalisable. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of morbidity; over 40% of the sample population were overweight whilst 60% of the sample population led sedentary lives; the incidence of smoking is higher than in the rest of the population; stress levels are also very high. The survey revealed major inconsistencies between the respondents' knowledge about illness causation and their health behaviours. It also revealed that health workers, particularly GPs are failing to provide adequate and relevant health advice. The findings from the survey on the primary health needs of the Greek Cypriot women revealed the inability of health workers to provide culturally sensitive care and highlighted the problems faced by those who speak little or no English. The knowledge of the health purchasers and providers about the needs of the Greek Cypriots varied but it was generally far from being adequate.

The study makes a number of recommendations for health policy, action and research.

Policy makers and health providers need to compile a detail profile of the health, illness and lifestyles of the Greek Cypriot community which, in North London at least, forms one of the largest minority ethnic communities. There is no doubt that the Greek Cypriot community, needs to collaborate with the health purchasers and providers in the development and implementation of health promotion campaigns which must acknowledge the importance of culture and language. Some of the difficulties faced by the Greek Cypriot community may be alleviated if more members of the community entered the caring professions particularly nursing. A model for the promotion and provision of culturally competent care is suggested. Finally, it is recommended that more research is undertaken in some of the areas identified in the study particularly on the effects of culture on the first and subsequent generations of Greek Cypriots, on sensitive health issues such as mental health, sexual health, bereavement and loss, as well as the centrality of family as a force for health and illness.

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