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Ethn Health. 2015;20(5):523-41. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2014.946473. Epub 2014 Aug 13.

Is health a right for all? An umbrella review of the barriers to health care access faced by migrants.

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a Department of Community Nursing, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, and History of Science , University of Alicante , Alicante , Spain.



To synthesise the scientific evidence concerning barriers to health care access faced by migrants. We sought to critically analyse this evidence with a view to guiding policies.


A systematic review methodology was used to identify systematic and scoping reviews which quantitatively or qualitatively analysed data from primary studies. The main variables analysed were structural and contextual barriers (health system organisation) as well as individual (patients and providers). The quality of evidence from the systematic reviews was critically appraised. From 2674 reviews, 79 were retained for further scrutiny, and finally 9 met the inclusion criteria.


The structural barriers identified were the lack of health insurance and the high cost of drugs (non-universal health system) and organisational aspects of health system (social insurance system and national health system). The individual barriers were linguistic and cultural. None of the reviews provided a quality appraisal of the studies.


Barriers to health care for migrants range from entitlement in non-universal health systems to accessibility in universal ones, and determinants of access to the respective health services should be analysed within the corresponding national context. Generate social and institutional changes that eliminate barriers to access to health services is essential to ensure health for all.


access; barriers; health services; migrants; review

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