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Rev Esp Salud Publica. 2014 Nov-Dec;88(6):715-34. doi: 10.4321/S1135-57272014000600005.

[Immigrants' access to health care in Spain: a review].

[Article in Spanish]



An important proportion of the population in Spain is immigrant and the international literature indicates their inadequate access to health services. The objective is to contribute to improving the knowledge on access to health care of the immigrant population in Spain.


Review of original papers published (1998-2012) on access to health services of the immigrant population in Spain published in Medline and MEDES. Out of 319 studies, 20 were selected, applying predefined criteria. The results were analyzed using the Aday and Andersen framework.


Among the publications, 13 quantitative studies analysed differences in health care use between the immigrant and the native population, and 7 studied determinants of access of immigrants. Studies showed less use of specialized care by immigrants, higher use of emergency care and no differences in the use of primary care between groups. Five quantitative articles on determinants of access focused on factors related to the immigrant population (sex, age, educational level and holding private health insurance), but without observing clear patterns. The two qualitative studies analyzed factors related to health services, describing access to healthcare barriers such as the limited provision of information or the requirements for personal health card.


Access to health care in immigrants has been scarcely studied, using different approaches and the barely analysed factors related to the services. No clear patterns were observed, as differences depend on the classification of migrants according to country of origin and the level of care. However, studies showed less use of specialized care by immigrants, higher use of emergency care and the existence of determinants of access different to their needs.

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