Inequalities in a National Health Care System from the Perspective of Social Workers in Israel

Nehami Baum, Yishay Kum, Hani Shalit, Malka Tal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study explores social workers' perceptions of inequalities in Israel's national health care system. Unlike previous studies, which relied on patients' and practitioners' reports, it is based on interviews with 60 social workers in hospitals and ambulatory clinics. The findings show that although Israeli law provides for (almost) free, universal medical care, the treatment of persons lacking in money, education, and social affiliation may be compromised by difficulties in paying for medications, treatments, and travel to and from hospital; by difficulties in understanding doctors' instructions; and by reluctance to ask questions. Most doctors tend to focus exclusively on patients' medical needs, seem to lack sympathy with less educated patients, have little understanding of the life circumstances that impinge on their compliance, and make little effort to speak to them in the language they can understand. Practical suggestions are made with regard to the need to turn doctors' attention to their patients' non-medical needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-865
Number of pages11
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 SAGE Publications.


  • Israel
  • access to medical care
  • compliance
  • doctor-patient communication
  • health inequalities
  • low SES patient
  • qualitative methodology


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