Healthcare consumption by ethnic minority people in their country of origin

Eur J Public Health. 2015 Jun;25(3):384-90. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cku205. Epub 2014 Dec 8.


Background: Studies from the USA, New Zealand and Denmark suggest that many ethnic minority citizens obtain healthcare in their country of origin. Their reasons for doing so and the possible consequences remain unclear.

Methods: We used data from the Healthy Life in an Urban Setting study to investigate the magnitude, types, self-reported reasons and determinants of past-year healthcare consumption in the country of origin by ethnic minority people living in the Netherlands. Individuals of African Surinamese (n = 2059), South-Asian Surinamese (n = 1915), Ghanaian (n = 1426), Moroccan (n = 1516) and Turkish (n = 2245) origin were included (recruited 2011-2013). We performed descriptive and stepwise logistic regression analyses.

Results: Respondents of Turkish origin reported the highest healthcare utilization in the country of origin (21.3%) compared with Moroccan (9.8%), Ghanaian (6.6%), African Surinamese (4.8%) and South-Asian Surinamese (3.0%) respondents. The main services used were outpatient clinics, pharmacies and health centres. The chief reported motivations were healthcare for illness, dissatisfaction with care in the residence country and seeking second opinions. Physical health status, cultural distance to the Dutch healthcare system and Turkish origin were all independently associated with healthcare use in countries of origin.

Conclusion: Both health status and attitudes towards services in the countries of residence and origin are significantly associated with cross-border healthcare use. Further research is needed to clarify the reasons for the relatively high rates shown by Turkish respondents and to explore the consequences for health and for healthcare utilization in the country of residence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa / ethnology
  • Aged
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Delivery of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity / ethnology*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Ghana / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Morocco / ethnology
  • Netherlands
  • Turkey / ethnology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult