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A cross-sectional investigation of the health needs of asylum seekers in a refugee clinic in Germany


BACKGROUND:Over one million asylum seekers were registered in Germany in 2016, most from Syria and Afghanistan. The Refugee Convention guarantees access to healthcare, however delivery mechanisms remain heterogeneous. There is an urgent need for more data describing the health conditions of asylum seekers to guide best practices for healthcare delivery. In this study, we describe the state of health of asylum seekers presenting to a multi-specialty primary care refugee clinic. METHODS:Demographic and medical diagnosis data were extracted from the electronic medical records of patients seen at the ambulatory refugee clinic in Dresden, Germany between 15 September 2015 and 31 December 2016. Data were de-identified and analyzed using Stata version 14.0. RESULTS:Two-thousand-seven-hundred and fifty-three individual patients were seen in the clinic. Of these, 2232 (81.1%) were insured by the state indicating arrival within the last 3 months. The median age was 25, interquartile range 16-34. Only 786 (28.6%) were female, while 1967 (71.5%) were male. The most frequent diagnoses were respiratory (17.4%), followed by miscellaneous symptoms and otherwise not classified ailments (R series, 14.1%), infection (10.8%), musculoskeletal or connective tissue (9.3%), gastrointestinal (6.8%), injury (5.9%), and mental or behavioral (5.1%) categories. CONCLUSIONS:This study illustrates the diverse medical conditions that affect the asylum seeker population. Asylum seekers in our study group did not have a high burden of communicable diseases, however several warranted additional screening and treatment, including for tuberculosis and scabies. Respiratory illnesses were more common amongst newly arrived refugees. Trauma-related mental health disorders comprised half of mental health diagnoses.

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