Barriers to access to health care for newly resettled sub-Saharan refugees in Australia

Med J Aust. 2006 Dec 4-18;185(11-12):594-7. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00721.x.


Objective: To determine barriers that affect access to health care for refugees from sub-Saharan Africa resettled in Sydney.

Design: Descriptive epidemiological study and survey.

Participants and setting: Parents of newly resettled refugee children seen at a tertiary hospital paediatric clinic between 10 June 2005 and 19 May 2006.

Main outcome measures: Socioeconomic indicators, health seeking behaviour, social barriers, and beliefs about health.

Results: Parents of 34 of a possible 35 families (97%) agreed to participate. Barriers to accessing health care include language barriers, financial handicap, lack of health information, not knowing where to seek help, and poor understanding of how to access health services. Most refugee families established connections with community and religious groups soon after arrival in Australia.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that most refugee families are not totally isolated in Australia, but form early connections with cultural, social and religious groups of their own ethnic background. These groups provide an opportunity to deliver health education and health information that would improve their access to health services.

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / ethnology
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Community Networks
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Refugees* / psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Social Isolation
  • Socioeconomic Factors