Health Assessment and the Right to Health in Sweden: Asylum Seekers' Perspectives
2016 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 11, no 9, e0161842Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Background Swedish law entitles asylum seekers to a voluntary health assessment and to "health care that cannot be postponed". The last expression suggests, however, restrictions on the entitlement, and what it may or may not include remains ultimately a decision for health professionals in the specific case. Indeed, the health assessment constitutes the sole active effort from Swedish authorities to fulfill this right. This study was therefore aimed at assessing how the information, procedures and services related to the health assessment are accessible and acceptable to fulfill the right to health of asylum seekers, from their own perspective. Methods The study has a cross-sectional design. A questionnaire was administrated in 16 language schools for immigrants, in four counties of Sweden. Three hundred eighty-six individuals fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The frequency of their answers was tabulated to estimate how the information, procedures and services related to the health assessment correspond to the criteria for accessibility and acceptability regarding the right to health. Findings Forty-eight (12.4%) respondents did not undergo the health assessment. Thirty-one of them did not even receive the invitation letter. They said they lost the opportunity to know their health status, to obtain treatment for or advice about their health problems. Additionally, 55.2% of those who attended the health assessment indicated that their needs were overlooked, particularly when these were of a psychological nature. Two in three participants also considered the health assessment to be a communicable disease control, rather than an effort to take care of their health needs. Nevertheless, the respondents had a positive attitude towards the health assessment as such. Conclusions Although being an important contribution, the health assessment does not suffice to fulfill the right to health of asylum seekers because there are shortcomings regarding the accessibility and acceptability of the information, procedures and services that it includes.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 11, no 9, e0161842
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-126498DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161842ISI: 000382877800021OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-126498DiVA: diva2:1040494