Barriers to and facilitators of health services utilisation by refugees in resettlement countries: An overview of systematic reviews Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the previously reviewed research literature to identify barriers and facilitators to health service utilisation by refugees in resettlement countries. Methods An overview of systematic reviews was conducted. Seven electronic databases (Medline, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsycINFO, ProQuest Central, Scopus, EBSCO and Google Scholar) were searched for systematic reviews of barriers and facilitators to health-seeking behaviour and utilisation of health services by refugees following resettlement. The two authors independently undertook data selection, data extraction and quality assessment using a validated tool. Results Nine systematic reviews covered a range of study areas and refugee populations. Barriers to health service utilisation fell into three broad areas: (1) issues related to refugees, including refugee characteristics, sociocultural factors and the effects of previous experiences; (2) issues related to health services, including practice issues and the knowledge and skills of health professionals; and (3) issues related to the resettlement context, including policies and practical issues. Few facilitators were identified or evaluated, but these included approaches to care, health service responses and behaviours of health professionals. Conclusions Barriers to accessing health care include refugee characteristics, practice issues in health services, including the knowledge and skills of health professionals, and the resettlement context. Health services need to identify barriers to culturally sensitive care. Improvements in service delivery are needed that meet the needs of refugees. More research is needed to evaluate facilitators to improving health care accessibility for these vulnerable groups. What is known about the topic? Refugee health after resettlement is poor, yet health service use is low. What does this paper add? Barriers to accessing health services in resettlement countries are related not only to refugees, but also to issues regarding health service practices and health professionals’ knowledge and skill, as well as the context of resettlement. Few facilitators to improving refugee access to health services have been identified. What are the implications for practitioners? The barriers associated with health professionals and health services have been linked to trust building, and these need to be addressed to improve accessibility of care for refugees.

publication date

  • 2019