Barriers to health care access and service utilization of refugees in Austria: Evidence from a cross-sectional survey

Judith Kohlenberger, Isabella Buber-Ennser, Bernhard Rengs, Sebastian Leitner, Michael Landesmann

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper provides evidence on (1) refugees’ subjective well-being, (2) their access and barriers to health care utilization and (3) their perception of health care provision in Austria, one of the countries most heavily affected by the European ‘refugee crisis.’ It is based on primary data from the Refugee Health and Integration Survey (ReHIS), a cross-sectional survey of roughly five hundred Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees. Results indicate that refugees’ self-rated health falls below the resident population’s, in particular for female and Afghan refugees. Whereas respondents state overall high satisfaction with the Austrian health system, two in ten male and four in ten female refugees report unmet health needs. Most frequently cited barriers include scheduling conflicts, long waiting lists, lack of knowledge about doctors, and language. Although treatment costs were not frequently considered as barriers, consultation of specialist medical services frequently associated with co-payment by patients, in particular dental care, are significantly less often consulted by refugees than by Austrians. Refugees reported comparably high utilization of hospital services, with daycare treatment more common than inpatient stays. We recommend to improve refugees’ access to health care in Austria by a) improving the information flow about available treatment, in particular specialists, b) fostering dental health care for refugees, and c) addressing language barriers by providing (web-based) interpretation services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833 - 839
JournalHealth Policy
Volume123
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 504006 Demography
  • 504021 Migration research
  • 509012 Social policy

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