Physical health and service utilisation among community-dwelling asylum seekers in high-income countries

Added March 15, 2024

Citation: Hadgkiss EJ, Renzaho AMN. The physical health status, service utilisation and barriers to accessing care for asylum seekers residing in the community: a systematic review of the literature. Australian Health Review. 2014;38(2):142-59.

Language: Abstract and full text available in EN.

Free to view: Yes.

Funding sources: Nothing noted.

What is this? In this systematic review, the authors searched for quantitative and qualitative studies on the physical health and use of health services among asylum seekers living in the community. They restricted their searches to articles from high-income countries published in English between 2002 and October 2012. The authors found 32 studies (23 quantitative and 9 qualitative).

What was found: Asylum seekers living in the community had a high prevalence of health conditions that included infectious diseases, chronic non-communicable conditions, and reproductive health issues. Asylum seekers in the community used health services at a higher rate than the host population, yet faced substantial barriers to care. Barriers to healthcare included the inability to pay for care, poor health literacy and knowledge of the system, low perceived effectiveness and quality of services, linguistic and cultural factors, discrimination and disrespect by healthcare providers, and distrust in providers.

Implications: The authors of the review stated that asylum seekers in the community had a disproportionate health burden which placed them at greater risk of poor health outcomes. There is a need for studies that explore policies to improve health outcomes and promote equity of access.

Other considerations: The authors of the review discuss their findings in the context of race, ethnicity, culture, and language.



This summary was prepared by Joly Ghanawi, checked by Sydney Johnson, and finalized by William Summerskill.

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