The physical health status, service utilisation and barriers to accessing care for asylum seekers residing in the community: a systematic review of the literature

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Asylum seekers appear to utilise health services at a higher rates than the host population, yet face significant barriers to care. Studies that explore policy options, including cross-country comparisons, to foster equity of access and reduce health inequalities between asylum seekers and the host population are urgently required.

Asylum seekers residing in community settings while they await a decision on their refugee status have a disproportionate burden of physical morbidity, this review aimed to understand this disparity. Nine qualitative and 23 quantitative studies were identified. The quality and size of the studies was variable but 11 were judged to be of high quality. Asylum seekers have complex health profiles which include infectious diseases, chronic non-communicable conditions, and reproductive-health issues. Barriers to accessing health care include; affordability, literacy, perceived effectiveness and quality of health services, mistrust, discrimination, linguistic and cultural factors.

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