Immigrant populations, particularly youth, experience higher rates of unmet sexual and reproductive health (SRH) need in Canada. In the absence of culturally appropriate and accessible SRH care, they face an increased risk of harm when engaging in normal, healthy sexual behaviours for their age. A three-pronged approach where im/migrant youth are provided with adequate sexual health education, a safe and supportive environment, and access to culturally competent SRH care can meet the current deficits in Canada. This requires a collaborative effort between healthcare providers, community-based service providers, and health promotion and education providers. We conducted two knowledge exchange workshops with community-based organizations that support im/migrant youth with settlement services in promoting SRH in British Columbia. Our objective was to identify knowledge and access gaps to culturally competent SRH care for im/migrant youth, to inform the design of KT interventions to address those gaps.
We conducted two focus group discussions, with 12 participants in a virtual setting. Participants were recruited using a snowball sampling method and represented various community-based organizations in BC. We used graphic facilitation and thematic analysis to interpret discussion and presented results back to participants in the form of an illustrated infographic.
The focus group discussions facilitated knowledge exchange between the community stakeholders. Results highlighted that community organizations are often the first point of contact and a trusted source for im/migrant youth and their families looking for SRH information. These organizations are well-positioned to provide language support to make SRH care accessible. However, most community organizations providing settlement services lack formal training or programming to promote SRH care. The discussion identified that providing comprehensive resources and training would bolster capacity in staff and allow them to support im/migrant youth in seeking SRH care. Leveraging partnerships with health organizations focussing on SRH care can lead to stronger referral pathways for youth. Participants also shared that community-based organizations could explore introductory workshops or public events to establish themselves as a safe and trusted resource for youth seeking SRH care. Participants will use our co-produced infographic to support awareness-raising within their networks and forge new partnerships.
Our KT workshops identified that community-based organizations that provide settlement services to im/migrant youth are well-positioned to help youth navigate SRH care. However, due to a lack of formal programming, training, established referral pathways, community-based organizations are underutilized as a source for acquiring information on SRH care. In the next phase of our study, we plan to interview immigrant youth, healthcare providers and co-develop a digital KT intervention with our community stakeholders to enhance access to SRH care.Zeba Khan