Healthcare provision inside immigration removal centres: a social identity analysis of trust, legitimacy and disengagement

Kellezi, B. ORCID: 0000-0003-4825-3624, Wakefield, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-9155-9683, Bowe, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-0491-1472, Stevenson, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2438-6425 and McNamara, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-3123-3678, 2021. Healthcare provision inside immigration removal centres: a social identity analysis of trust, legitimacy and disengagement. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 13 (3), pp. 578-601. ISSN 1758-0846


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The stressors of immigration detention and negative host country experiences make effective access to health care vital for migrant detainees, but little is known regarding the health experiences of this populations and the barriers to healthcare access. The present research investigates immigration detainees’ experiences of health‐related help‐seeking in the distressing and stigmatised environment of UK immigration removal centres (IRCs), as well as staff members’ experiences of providing help. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 40 detainees and 21 staff and analysed using theoretical thematic analysis guided by the social identity approach. The findings indicate that the practical constraints on help provision (e.g. lack of time and resources, the unpredictable nature of detention) are exacerbated by the complex and conflictual intergroup relationships within which these helping transactions occur. These transactions are negatively affected by stigma, mutual distrust and reputation management concerns, as well as detainees’ feelings of powerlessness and confusion around eligibility to receive health care. Some detainees argued that the help ignores the systematic inequalities associated with their detainee status, thereby making it fundamentally inappropriate and ineffective. The intergroup context (of inequality and illegitimacy) shapes the quality of helping transactions, care experiences and health service engagement in groups experiencing chronic low status, distress and uncertainty.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being
Creators: Kellezi, B., Wakefield, J., Bowe, M., Stevenson, C. and McNamara, N.
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Date: August 2021
Volume: 13
Number: 3
ISSN: 1758-0846
Rights: © 2021 The Authors. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Association of Applied Psychology. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 10 Feb 2021 13:34
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2021 09:41

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