Design, setting and participants: South African-trained doctors living in Australia and the spouses or adult children of deceased practitioners who had emigrated from South Africa were contacted by email between August 2008 and February 2009. The sample of doctors was gathered and expanded by an email “snowball” technique and through advertising in alumni and professional journals and newsletters. A questionnaire was emailed to 653 contacts.
Results: Responses were received from 469 of the 653 email contacts (72%), from a population of about 2200 South African doctors in Australia. Of the 469 respondents, 434 (93%) had been motivated to emigrate by a wish to leave South Africa, rather than by Australian inducements. The primary reason for emigration before 1990 was opposition to apartheid (142/205 [69%]); the primary reason for emigration after 1990 was the level of violent crime (including “safety” issues) (116/264 [44%]).
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