Barriers and facilitators to dental care access among asylum seekers and refugees in highly developed countries: a systematic review

BMC Oral Health. 2020 Nov 25;20(1):337. doi: 10.1186/s12903-020-01321-1.

Abstract

Background: Dental diseases are prevalent among asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs). Despite significant treatment needs, access to dental care in host countries is often limited. The aim of this systematic review was to identify the barriers and enablers to dental care access for ASRs in host countries of very high development.

Methods: Five health and social care databases and eight grey literature sources of information were searched. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme tool was used to critically appraise included studies. Thematic analysis was undertaken to identify common themes. These were then deductively organised according to Penchansky and Thomas's modified access model. All review stages were conducted by two independent reviewers.

Results: Nine papers were included in the review. ASRs encounter significant challenges to accessing dental care in their host countries. These include affordability, communication difficulties, insufficient interpretation, limited knowledge of the healthcare systems and healthcare rights, and negative encounters with healthcare teams. The views and experiences of dental care teams providing care to ASRs were explored in only one study.

Conclusions: Both population and healthcare characteristics influence access to dental care for ASRs. Affordability, awareness and accommodation are most frequently described as barriers to dental access for this population. The diverse needs of this population need to be recognised by policy makers, commissioners and practitioners alike. Cultural competence needs to be incorporated into dental services and any interventions to improve access to dental care for this population. Registration PROSPERO- International prospective register of systematic reviews (CRD42019145570).

Keywords: Access; Asylum seeker; Dental care; Displaced persons; Refugee.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Care
  • Developed Countries
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Refugees*
  • Social Support