Journal Article

International migrants’ use of emergency departments in Europe compared with non-migrants’ use: a systematic review

Sarah H Credé, Elizabeth Such and Suzanne Mason

in The European Journal of Public Health

Published on behalf of European Public Health Association

Volume 28, issue 1, pages 61-73
Published in print February 2018 | ISSN: 1101-1262
Published online May 2017 | e-ISSN: 1464-360X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckx057
International migrants’ use of emergency departments in Europe compared with non-migrants’ use: a systematic review

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  • Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Economics of Health
  • Health, Illness, and Medicine

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Abstract

Background

International migration across Europe is increasing. High rates of net migration may be expected to increase pressure on healthcare services, including emergency services. However, the extent to which immigration creates additional pressure on emergency departments (EDs) is widely debated. This review synthesizes the evidence relating to international migrants’ use of EDs in European Economic Area (EEA) countries as compared with that of non-migrants.

Methods

MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library and The Web of Science were searched for the years 2000–16. Studies reporting on ED service utilization by international immigrants, as compared with non-migrants, were eligible for inclusion. Included studies were restricted to those conducted in EEA countries and English language publications only.

Results

Twenty-two articles (from six host countries) were included. Thirteen of 18 articles reported higher volume of ED service use by immigrants, or some immigrant sub-groups. Migrants were seen to be significantly more likely to present to the ED during unsocial hours and more likely than non-migrants to use the ED for low-acuity presentations. Differences in presenting conditions were seen in 4/7 articles; notably a higher rate of obstetric and gynaecology presentations among migrant women.

Conclusions

The principal finding of this review is that migrants utilize the ED more, and differently, to the native populations in EEA countries. The higher use of the ED for low-acuity presentations and the use of the ED during unsocial hours suggest that barriers to primary healthcare may be driving the higher use of these emergency services although further research is needed.

Journal Article.  7988 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Economics of Health ; Health, Illness, and Medicine

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