Publications & Reports

Refugee experiences of general practice in countries of resettlement: a literature review.

Cheng I-H, Drillich A, Schattner P
Southern Academic Primary Care Research Unit (Monash University School of Primary Health Care, South Eastern Melbourne Medicare Local, Monash Health), Dandenong, Victoria, Australia.


BACKGROUND: Refugees and asylum seekers often struggle to use general practice services in resettlement countries. AIM: To describe and analyse the literature on the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers using general practice services in countries of resettlement. DESIGN AND SETTING: Literature review using systematic search and narrative data extraction and synthesis methodologies. International, peer-reviewed literature published in English language between 1990 and 2013. METHOD: Embase, Ovid MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CSA Sociological Abstracts, and CINAHL databases were searched using the terms: refugee, asylum seeker, experience, perception, doctor, physician, and general practitioner. Titles, abstracts and full texts were reviewed and were critically appraised. Narrative themes describing the refugee or asylum seeker’s personal experiences of general practice services were identified, coded, and analysed. RESULTS: From 8722 papers, 85 were fully reviewed and 23 included. These represented the experiences of approximately 864 individuals using general practice services across 11 countries. Common narrative themes that emerged were: difficulties accessing general practice services, language barriers, poor doctor-patient relationships, and problems with the cultural acceptability of medical care. CONCLUSION: The difficulties refugees and asylum seekers experience accessing and using general practice services could be addressed by providing practical support for patients to register, make appointments, and attend services, and through using interpreters. Clinicians should look beyond refugee stereotypes to focus on the needs and expectations of the individual. They should provide clear explanations about unfamiliar clinical processes and treatments while offering timely management.


  • Journal: The British Journal of General Practice
  • Published: 01/03/2015
  • Volume: 65
  • Issue: 632
  • Pagination: e171-e176


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