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date: 18 November 2017

Health Status of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Europe

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Global Public Health. Please check back later for the full article.

The health status of refugees and asylum seekers varies across the European region. These differences can be attributed to the political nature of the legal categories of “asylum seeker” and “refugee”; the wide disparities in national health services; and the large diversity of this population, including age, gender, socioeconomic background, country of origin, ethnicity, language proficiency, migration trajectory, and legal status. Refugees are considered to be at risk of being relatively “unhealthy migrants” compared to those who migrate for economic motives, often termed the “healthy migrant effect.” Refugees and asylum seekers are at risk to the drivers of declining health associated with settlement such as diet and poor housing. Restricted access to health care, whether through legal, economic, cultural, or language barriers, is another major cause of declining health status. Evidence also suggests that the “embodiment” of the experience of exclusion and marginalization that refugee and asylum seekers face in countries of resettlement significantly drives decrements in the health status of this population.