Community-based asylum seekers' use of primary health care services in Melbourne

I Correa-Velez, Vanessa JOHNSTON, J KIRK, A Ferdinand

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    Abstract

    Objective: To investigate primary health care service utilisation and health presentations among asylum seekers living in Melbourne. Design and setting: Retrospective audit of files of people who attended three Melbourne asylum-seeker health clinics between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2006. Main outcome measures: Rates of reasons for the encounter, diagnostic tests or investigations required, treaftments prescribed and referrals. Results: Data were collected from 998 consultations corresponding to 341 people. Eighty-eight per cent of visits involved people with no Medicare access, owing to their visa status. The most common reasons for the encounter were general and unspecified symptoms or problems (rate, 59.9 per 100 encounters; 95% CI, 55-65), followed by musculoskeletal conditions (27.1; 95% CI, 24-30), and psychological problems (26.5; 95% CI, 23-30). The rate of referrals was 18.3 per 100 encounters (95% CI, 16-21). Conclusions: The three clinics providing services to asylum seekers in Melbourne are delivering care to a considerable number of people with complex health needs. A substantial number of asylum seekers present to clinics with psychological and social problems. Most cannot access government-subsidised health care. This must be addressed urgently by policy change at the federal and state and territory levels.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)344-348
    Number of pages5
    JournalMedical Journal of Australia
    Volume188
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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    Correa-Velez, I., JOHNSTON, V., KIRK, J., & Ferdinand, A. (2008). Community-based asylum seekers' use of primary health care services in Melbourne. Medical Journal of Australia, 188(6), 344-348.