Objectives: To develop conceptual understanding of perceived barriers to seeking care for migrant children and young people (aged 0-25 years) with mental health problems and/or neurodevelopmental differences in high-income countries.
Design: Qualitative evidence synthesis using meta-ethnography methodology. We searched four electronic databases (Medline, PsycINFO, Global Health and Web of Science) from inception to July 2019 for qualitative studies exploring barriers to care (as perceived by migrant communities and service providers) for migrant children and young people in high-income countries with neurodevelopmental differences and/or mental health problems. The quality of included studies was explored systematically using a quality assessment tool.
Results: We screened 753 unique citations and 101 full texts, and 30 studies met our inclusion criteria. We developed 16 themes representing perceived barriers to care on the supply and demand side of the care-seeking process. Barriers included: stigma; fear and mistrust of services; lack of information on mental health and service providers lacking cultural responsiveness. Themes were incorporated into Levesque et al's conceptual framework of patient-centred access to healthcare, creating a version of the framework specific to migrant children and young people's mental health and neurodevelopmental differences.
Conclusions: This is the first qualitative evidence synthesis on barriers to care for mental health problems and/or neurodevelopmental differences in migrant children and young people in high-income countries. We present an adapted conceptual framework that will help professionals and policy-makers to visualise the complex nature of barriers to care, and assist in improving practice and designing interventions to overcome them. Similar barriers were identified across study participants and migrant populations. While many barriers were also similar to those for children and young people in general populations, migrant families faced further, specific barriers to care. Interventions targeting multiple barriers may be required to ensure migrant families reach care.
Keywords: child & adolescent psychiatry; public health; qualitative research.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.