Use of health services among international migrant children – a systematic review

Nina Markkula, Baltica Cabieses, Venla Lehti, Eleonora Pmm Uphoff, Sofia Astorga, Francisca Stutzin

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Migrant children have specific health needs, and may face difficulties in accessing health care, but not enough is known about their health service use. This study aims to describe patterns of use of health services of international migrant children and differences to respective native populations.

Electronic databases PubMed and Web of Science, references of identified publications, and websites of relevant international agencies were searched. We included observational studies published between 2006 and 2016 that reported use of formal health services by migrant children (0–18 years), including first and second generation migrants. Data on study characteristics, study theme, main outcome and study quality were extracted.

One hundred seven full texts were included in the review. Of the studies that reported comparable outcomes, half (50%) indicated less use of healthcare by migrants compared with non-migrants; 25% reported no difference, 18% reported greater use, and 7% did not report this outcome. There was variation by theme, so that the proportion of conclusions “less use” was most common in the categories “general access to care”, “primary care” and “oral health”, whereas in the use of emergency rooms or hospitalisations, the most common conclusion was “greater use”.

Migrant children appear to use different types of healthcare services less than native populations, with the exception of emergency and hospital services.
Original languageEnglish
Article number52
Number of pages10
JournalGlobalization and Health
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2018

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© The Author(s). 2018

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