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

Kohlenberger, Judith and Buber-Ennser, Isabella and Rengs, Bernhard and Leitner, Sebastian and Landesmann, Michael (2019) Barriers to health care access and service utilization of refugees in Austria: Evidence from a cross-sectional survey. Health Policy, 123 (9). pp. 833-839. ISSN 0168-8510

Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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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.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work was supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research; the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection; the Fonds Soziales Wien (FSW); Common Health Goals of the "Rahmen-Pharmavertrag", a cooperation between the Austrian pharmaceutical industry and the Austrian social insurance [grantnumber 99901007700].
Keywords: Refugees, Austria, Health Access, Health barriers, Subjective well-being, Social survey
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Sozialpolitik
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2019 09:44
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 05:50
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