Background: LGBTIQ asylum-seekers face multiple health risks. Yet, little is known about their healthcare needs. In 2016, Berlin opened the only major shelter for LGBTIQ asylum-seekers in Germany. This preliminary study describes health and healthcare utilization by asylum-seekers living in Berlin's LGBTIQ shelter. To identify particular healthcare needs, we compared our results to asylum-seekers from other shelters.
Methods: We surveyed residents of the LGBTIQ shelter and 21 randomly selected shelters in Berlin, using a validated questionnaire in nine languages (n = 309 respondents, including 32 respondents from the LGBTIQ shelter). Bivariate tests and generalized linear mixed models were applied to examine differences in health and healthcare utilization between the two groups.
Results: Residents of the LGBTIQ shelter show high rates of chronic and mental illness. They use ambulatory and mental health services more frequently than asylum-seekers from other shelters, including a significantly higher chance of obtaining psychotherapy/psychiatric care in case of need. Emergency room utilization is also higher in the LGBTIQ group.
Conclusions: Asylum-seekers from the LGBTIQ shelter face high chronic and mental health burdens. Tailored services in the LGBTIQ shelter help obtain adequate healthcare; they should be scaled up to maximize their potential. Yet, unmet needs remain and warrant further research.
Keywords: Germany; LGBTIQ; asylum-seekers; chronic illness; cross-sectional survey; healthcare utilization; intersectionality; mental health; refugees.