The Rheuma Liga Hessen e. V. and the Turkish-German Health Foundation e. V. (TDG), with the support of AOK Hessen, introduced migrants of Turkish origin with rheumatism to self-help for the first time. They should be enabled to set up a self-help group on their own in the medium term. The two-year project in Frankfurt, Gießen and Kassel is thus pursuing a unique integrative approach.

Building Speaking platforms

Patients with a migration background very often suffer from rheumatic diseases (e.g. osteoarthritis), but are rarely organized in self-help groups. If they also have an inadequate command of the German language, they are denied numerous prevention offerings. „Self-help as a discussion space to better understand the disease is completely unknown in Turkey,“ says Dr. Yasar Bilgin from TDG. There is also no adequate translation for the word “self-help”. In addition, Turkish families rarely talk about illnesses, visits to the doctor, and even prevention and precautionary measures. „There is often a lack of experience with exercises to influence pain,“ adds Reinhard Wirsing from the Rheuma Liga Hessen. Reason enough for the two partners to set up regional groups, especially for Turkish women with rheumatism.

A positive

Exercise programs and seminars are offered as part of this model project. The project also pursues an integrative aspect. It opens access to the German, thus also German-speaking, health care system and sensitizes women to the possibilities of having a positive influence on therapy and the course of their disease through their own actions. The model project is culturally sensitive insofar as cultural characteristics are respected in access to the migrant women and the offers are adapted accordingly. For example, instead of the usual water aerobics, dry functional training is offered. The work in the self-help groups is also carried out in Turkish and German. In the general terms, we aim to have a mixed composition of self-help groups with German women and migrants. In addition to the three regional groups, a counselling hotline, staffed by two Turkish doctors, was set up for all affected patients in Hesse.

Spokesperson: Ayla Gediz