Objective. Asylum seekers have poor access to health care. Qualitative data portraying their experience is lacking. Methods. We conducted focus groups and comprehensive interviews with 35 asylum seekers and 15 expert providers/advocacy organization representatives. Purposive sampling was used to recruit subgroups. Interviews were recorded, coded, and analyzed. Results. Participants: 85% male, mostly from African countries. Major barriers: a) Internal, including mental illness, fatalism, mistrust, and perceived discrimination; b) Structural, including affordability, limited services, inadequate interpretation, resettlement challenges such as shelter, food, and employment insecurity; health care for urgent care only; and poor cultural competency; c) Barriers in social assimilation, including difficulty navigating a complex system and inadequate community support. Conclusion. Significant inter-related barriers exist at the individual, provider, and system levels. Strategies to improve access include targeting social programs and mental health services, expanding Medicaid eligibility/enrollment, promoting community-based organizations, enforcing the use of trained medical interpreters, and improving cultural competency.


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pp. 506-522
Launched on MUSE
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