Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on ethnic minority communities: a qualitative study on the perspectives of ethnic minority community leaders

Fesani Mahmood, Dev Acharya, Kanta Kumar, Vibhu Paudyal

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Abstract

Objectives: To explore the perspectives of ethnic minority community leaders in relation to: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their communities; and their community’s perception, understanding and adherence to government guidelines on COVID-19 public health measures.

Design: A phenomenological approach was adopted using qualitative semistructured interviews.

Settings: Community organisations and places of worships in the West Midlands, England.

Participants: Community leaders recruited through organisations representing ethnic minority communities and religious places of worship.

Results: A total of 19 participants took part. Participants alluded to historical and structural differences for the observed disparities in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Many struggled with lockdown measures which impeded cultural and religious gatherings that were deemed to be integral to the community. Cultural and social practices led to many suffering on their own as discussion of mental health was still deemed a taboo within many communities. Many expressed their community’s reluctance to report symptoms for the fear of financial and physical health implications. They reported increase in hate crime which was deemed to be exacerbated due to perceived insensitive messaging from authority officials and historical racism in the society. Access and adherence to government guidelines was an issue for many due to language and digital barriers. Reinforcement from trusted community and religious leaders encouraged adherence. Points of support such as food banks were vital in ensuring essential supplies during the pandemic. Many could not afford or have access to masks and sanitisers.

Conclusion: The study highlights the perceived impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ethnic minority communities. Government agencies and public health agencies need to integrate with the community, and community leaders can enable dissemination of key messages to deliver targeted yet sensitive public health advice which incorporates cultural and religious practices. Addressing the root causes of disparities is imperative to mitigate current and future pandemics.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere050584
JournalBMJ open
Volume11
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Public health
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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