Demographic and clinical characteristics of refugees seeking primary healthcare services in Greece in the period 2015-2016: a descriptive study

Int Health. 2018 Nov 1;10(6):421-429. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihy042.


Background: In 2015-2016, more than a million refugees entered Greece. Along with other organizations, PRAKSIS, a local non-governmental organization, deployed mobile medical units on three islands and in temporary settlements in Athens.

Methods: This is a descriptive cross-sectional study aimed at analysing the demographic and clinical characteristics of the population (n=6688) that received services from PRAKSIS between October 2015 and June 2016 in different locations (islands of Samos, Kos and Leros in the southeastern Aegean Sea and on the mainland at Athens-Piraeus Port Gate E) before and after the closure of European borders in March 2016.

Results: The majority (88%) of the population came from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Among them, 53% were women and children. Infectious diseases decreased as the population moved from the islands to the Athens-Piraeus Port, while all other disease categories increased in relative frequency, the difference being statistically significant (p<0.05). Among all consultations, dental and oral cavity health complaints also increased in the Athens-Piraeus Port, but failed to reach statistical significance (p=0.11). Referrals from the mobile health units to specialist care rose from 4.2% of all patients clinically examined on the islands to 9.9% in the Athens-Piraeus Port, and the difference was statistically significant (p<0.05).

Conclusions: More research and systematic data collection are needed to inform appropriate policies for the humanitarian challenges posed by the recent refugee and migrant waves in Europe.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communicable Diseases
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Middle East / ethnology
  • Mobile Health Units / supply & distribution
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult