Experiences of access to healthcare among newly arrived immigrants in Denmark: Examining the role of residence permit

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Aims: In Denmark, all residents regardless of nationality are de jure entitled to a wide range of free-of-charge healthcare services. There is, however, only scarce quantitative knowledge on immigrants’ experiences of their de facto access to healthcare and on how access relates to immigrants’ types of residence permits. The study aims to address these gaps.
Methods: Survey data on access to healthcare, employment and housing were collected among adult, newly arrived immigrants in Denmark (n=1711) at 26 publicly contracted Danish language schools in September-December 2021 by national cluster-random sampling stratified by region. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression.
Results: In total, 21% reported general difficulties obtaining good healthcare. Commonly experienced barriers related to financial constraints (39%), communication (37%), and lack of knowledge about the healthcare system (37%). Refugees and their families had higher odds of reporting barriers related to finances (OR 2.58; CI 1.77-3.76), communication (OR 3.15; CI 2.39-4.14), and knowledge (OR 1.84; CI 1.16-2.90), while other family reunified immigrants had lower odds of reporting knowledge barriers (OR 0.71; CI 0.54-0.93), compared with immigrants with EU/EEA residence permits, adjusted for gender and residential region. These results remained significant further adjusted for age, length of stay, education, income, rural/urban residence and household size.
Conclusions: Difficulties accessing healthcare are experienced by a large share of newly arrived immigrants in Denmark and are dependent on residence permit type. The findings suggest strengthened efforts to reduce barriers related to finances, communication, and knowledge, while focusing on the most vulnerable immigrants.
Original languageEnglish
Book seriesScandinavian Journal of Public Health, Supplement
Number of pages27
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024

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