Reaction of new Soviet immigrants to primary health care services in Israel

Larissa I. Remennick, Naomi Ottenstein-Eisen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The post-1989 immigration wave from the former U.S.S.R. has increased the Israeli population by over 12 percent, seriously affecting the host health care system. This study draws on semi-structured interviews with the immigrants visiting outpatient clinics in the Tel-Aviv area in order to explore organizational and cultural aspects of their encounter with the Israeli medical services. While instrumental aspects of care were seen as an improvement over the Soviet standards, communication between providers and clients was seriously flawed, reflecting both a language barrier and diverse cultures of illness and cure. Many interviewees complained of the impersonal, 'technical' attitude of Israeli physicians toward patients and the lack of holism in care, which they allegedly enjoyed before emigration. Some immigrant patients feel deprived of the paternalism of the Soviet medical system, complaining that Israeli providers 'forego responsibility' for patients' health. A consumerist approach to medical services is also a novelty, and immigrants have to learn to be informed and assertive clients. Most problems are experienced by the elderly patients; overall, women seem to adjust to the new system better than men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-574
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


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