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User-involvement in a migrant health clinic – A clinical study


Dorthe Susanne Nielsen ,

Migrant Health Clinic, Odense University Hospital, Denmark Department of Geriatric Medicine, Odense University Hospital University of Southern Denmark, DK
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Tine Birkebaek,

Migrant Health Clinic, Odense University Hospital, Denmark, DK
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Charlotte S. Rehling

Migrant Health Clinic, Odense University Hospital, Denmark, DK
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Introduction: User-involvement in a hospital setting requires the involvement of all stakeholders. Deprived and vulnerable groups of patients are under-represented in most health participatory initiatives. Ethnic minorities are consistently left out of user surveys, satisfaction surveys and quality surveys mainly because of language and cultural barriers and misunderstandings. In a Migrant Health Clinic, at a Danish University Hospital a distinct group of patients with minority background are enrolled with severe complex symptoms, uncharacteristic pain conditions, post-traumatic stress, complicated by language problems, social isolation and poor understanding of the body. In January 2017 the Migrant health clinic initiated a user-panel.

Aim, theory and methods: The aim of this study was to explore if patient involvement via a user-panel in a migrant health clinic could build on co-creation among patients and staff. In our study co-creation is about the involvement of users and health care professionals in the planning, creation and delivery of care and treatment. Co-creation is about getting everybody engaged around the table and thereby acknowledge every body´s input, the focus lies on relations and the values created through co-creation. Via field observation and informal interviews we uncovered and observed relations and interactions in the user panel over a period of four years.

Results: The panel consists of nine patients with different country of origin, language, gender, social background, and age, and a doctor, a research nurse, and a social worker are professional-representatives in the panel. The panel meet every second month, last two hours and ends with pizza and soft drinks. An interpreter also attend the meetings.

All patient-representative stated they were driven by making a difference to their fellow citizens, and were from the beginning very active and came up with relevant topics to improve practice. The professionals in the panel aimed to create a “safe space” where all members could express their opinions, wishes and ideas. The meetings had the same structure, but was developed in co-creation with all participants. New ideas were discussed and later implemented, like education to interpreters and a new name for the clinic. The panel have commented and been engaged in future and ongoing research projects.

Conclusions: Constructively, all patients in the user panel were driven by collective goals and made an effort not to deal with their individual concerns. The main conclusion from all members of the user panel was that making use of patient input leads to higher quality in care, treatment and research in the migrant health clinic. The panels input to education and to research programs have had significant impact. Vulnerable patients have a very important voice and should be invited to be involved in healthcare and treatment.

Implications for applicability/transferability, sustainability, and limitations: Inviting vulnerable patients into engagement in clinical treatment, care and research can have significant impact on clinical practice. But it requires health care professionals having the insight and the competences to see the process of co-creation as an open dialogue, and to be flexible enough to change direction based on the feedback they receive.





How to Cite: Nielsen DS, Birkebaek T, Rehling CS. User-involvement in a migrant health clinic – A clinical study. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2022;22(S3):286. DOI:
Published on 04 Nov 2022.


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