Immigration and health services: Immigrant complaint patterns regarding the primary health care system in Israel

Maya Shavit, Pnina Weisberg, Iddo Gal, Israel Doron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complaints are a potentially important source of information regarding health care quality in societies which face constant immigration. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence and patterns of complaints about health services from immigrants who are clients of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) in Israel, to compare them with the complaint patterns of other Israelis, and to examine the contribution of sociodemographic variables to this comparison. Primary data were collected from the pooled responses of subjects who participated in two national phone surveys conducted in 2005 and 2007. The responses of 375 persons who immigrated to Israel after 1989 were compared to those of 824 persons who had immigrated earlier or were born in Israel. All respondents were screened for having had a reason to complain against their HMO. Respondents reported on whether they complained the pattern of their complaint, their awareness of their rights, and other socioeconomic characteristics. Of the immigrants who reported having a grievance, 19% of immigrants (as compared to 35% of other Israelis) had actually complained. Structural problems, such as payments, administrative matters, etc., were the most prevalent reasons for complaining. The main reasons for not complaining were lack of motivation and/or knowledge about the complaint process. In logistic regression analysis, immigration status, age, and income were significantly associated with making a complaint.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-437
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by a grant from the Maccabi Health Services Fund. We thank Prof. Shai Linn, Head of the School of Public Health at the University of Haifa, for his advice during the planning of the project, as well as Ms. Gila Se’adia, the Ombudsman of Maccabi Health Services.


  • Complaints
  • HMO
  • Health care
  • Patients' rights
  • Right to health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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