Health Status of Asylum Seekers, Spain

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2018 Jan;98(1):300-307. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.17-0438. Epub 2018 Jan 1.


The rising rate of conflicts and the unsafe situation caused by reasons of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political opinion, or nationality entail an increase in the number of migratory movements. The goal of this article is to describe the health status of asylum seekers visited in an international health center. We conducted a retrospective study of the asylum seekers visited between July 2013 and June 2016. A total of 303 cases were included. The median age was 28.0 years (interquartile range [IQR]: 21-35), and 203 (67.0%) were men. Of the total, 128 cases (42.2%) were from Asia, 82 (27.1%) from Eastern Europe, 42 (13.9%) from sub-Saharan Africa, 34 (11.2%) from America, and 17 (5.6%) from Maghreb. The majority, 287 (94.7%), were asymptomatic. Seventy of the 303 (23.1%) cases were diagnosed with at least one infection, this being more prevalent in men; migrants from sub-Saharan Africa; and in those who took a land-maritime migratory route. Eight of the 303 (2.6%) cases were referred to the transcultural psychiatric department. Two important challenges of the study were the communication barriers and the legal or social situation that condition the psychological symptoms. In 48 of the 303 (15.8%) cases, there was diagnosed a noncommunicable diseases. The process of care was completed by 82.5%; although 21.9% completed the vaccination for hepatitis B. The asylum seekers in this study were in general healthy young men, although special attention was given to infectious diseases with certain geoepidemiological backgrounds. Unstable living arrangements, linguistic, and cultural barriers could account for the failure of the course of care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / ethnology
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Europe, Eastern / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infections / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Noncommunicable Diseases / epidemiology
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Young Adult